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Tens of thousands evacuated as northern China hit by torrential rain

Hundreds of millions of people in northern China, including Beijing, remain under a red alert for heavy rain
Hundreds of millions of people in northern China, including Beijing, remain under a red alert for heavy rain.

Tens of thousands of people were evacuated from high-risk areas of Beijing and another northern city as much of China was lashed by torrential rain on Sunday.

Deadly storm Doksuri has been sweeping northwards over China since Friday, when it careened into southern Fujian province after battering the Philippines as a typhoon.

The Chinese capital and surrounding region were drenched over the weekend, with officials warning of potentially hazardous conditions including floods, swelling rivers, mudslides and landslides.

More than 27,000 people in high-risk areas of Beijing have been evacuated, and another 20,000 were relocated from parts of neighboring province Hebei's capital Shijiazhuang, state media said.

Hundreds of millions of people in northern China, including in Beijing, remain under a red alert—the highest level—for heavy rain through at least Monday afternoon.

The alert covers Beijing's 22 million people and Tianjin's 14 million, as well as parts of Hebei, Shanxi, Shandong and Henan provinces.

It is the first time since 2011 that such a heavy rainfall warning has been issued, according to local media.

Chinese authorities have been cautious about heavy downpours since severe flooding in 2021 killed more than 300 people in central China, mainly in the city of Zhengzhou.

In Beijing, residents were urged on Sunday not to go outside unless necessary, advice that appeared widely heeded with the usually buzzing streets empty of many cars or pedestrians.

Companies were also told not to force their employees to come to work unless necessary.

Many popular sites in the capital were temporarily closed, including the Forbidden City, libraries and museums.

The sprawling National Center for the Performing Arts, located near Tiananmen Square, canceled opera and musical performances scheduled for Sunday.

City officials ordered all school buildings to shut, as some students and teachers were using the facilities for training or extracurricular activities like sports during the summer break.

On Sunday, the Ministry of Water Resources raised its flood warning after some rivers swelled beyond alert levels.

In one mountainous village on the outskirts of Beijing, a local river was transformed into a gushing torrent, but no casualties were reported as 62 households in the surrounding area were evacuated the previous day, according to the local newspaper.

Doksuri was initially categorized as a as it tore across the Pacific Ocean earlier this week, but it lost some intensity as it neared the Philippines, where it killed more than a dozen people.

It still brought colossal waves and howling winds of up to 175 kilometers per hour (110 miles per hour) to China's southeast on Friday, causing significant damage.

More than 880,000 people in Fujian province were affected by the storm, state media said Sunday.

The storm is hitting China after a summer of record temperatures, with scientists saying the extreme weather is exacerbated by climate change.

© 2023 AFP

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