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Cover Stories Series 2012> Beijing Deluge> News
UPDATED: July 27, 2012
Beijing Reflects on Emergency Management after Rain Disaster

A top municipal government official said Friday that a recent rainstorm in Beijing that has resulted in at least 77 deaths has exposed multiple loopholes in urban planning, construction, infrastructure and emergency management.

Guo Jinlong, Secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Beijing Municipal Committee, mourned those who lost their lives in the disaster during a trip to Fangshan district, which was hit the worst by the rainstorm.

"We must seriously reflect on these lessons and always bear them in mind," Guo said.

Guo, who was elected secretary of the CPC Beijing Municipal Committee on July 3, pointed out that the disaster has taught "profound lessons and exposed many loopholes."

Acting Mayor Wang Anshun, who joined other city officials at the mourning ceremony in Fangshan, said he appreciated the public's criticism and suggestions concerning the government's handling of the disaster.

"The municipal government will consider the public's criticisms openly and constantly improve its efforts to prevent such a tragedy from happening again," he said.

A late update regarding the storm's death toll sparked public criticism. Municipal authorities reported 77 deaths Thursday evening, four days after the first report of 37 deaths.

Friday coincided with the seventh day following the victims' deaths. In Chinese tradition, the seventh day following death is a day to mourn and pray for the deceased.

Guo led city officials in bowing for several minutes on the bank of Juma River, where flooding incurred heavy casualties and losses of property.

Rescuers have retrieved 38 bodies in Fangshan, including that of an 8-month-old girl. Most of the victims were drowned.

The downpour on July 21, reportedly the heaviest rain to hit the city in six decades, unleashed a city-wide average of 170 mm of precipitation, with Fangshan receiving a record 460 mm of rain.

Qi Hong, head of the district, told municipal officials that conditions in the district remain chaotic. Roads are blocked, supplies of electricity and water have yet to be restored and many people have been left homeless there.

"Our primary job is to ensure that all of the victims are sheltered and have sufficient food supplies," he said.

Guo and other officials dined together with flood refugees and construction workers in a temporary settlement in the village of Baidai at noon.

Builders are constructing 500 movable plank houses that will last for about three years, giving local residents enough time to rebuild theirs.

Qi said the disaster affected 800,000 people in the district, as well as inflicted direct economic losses of 2.26 billion yuan ($358 million).

Wang pledged that the city government will make its best efforts in directing relief work. Relief efforts will include restoring water and power, repairing roads, controlling possible epidemics and preventing floods in the event of another heavy rainfall.

(Xinhua News Agency July 27, 2012)

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