Blue skies in Beijing after deadly deluge

Beijing's weather today is glorious. A so-called 'Blue Sky' day with the cleanest air for many months.

The contrast couldn't be sharper with the dark clouds and torrential downpours 24 hours ago. At about two in the afternoon yesterday, it started raining hard and then it just didn't stop, all afternoon and most of the night.

Ten people are reported to have died. Some while trapped in their cars by rising floodwaters. Two people were killed when their house collapsed. Some say it has been the heaviest rainfall, in the normally dry Chinese capital, for 60 years.

TV pictures show emergency workers wearing lifejackets swimming out to cars marooned in flooded underpasses trying to break the windows and pull out trapped motorists. It looked more like a river rescue.

A woman cycles through the flood. Credit: Reuters

At the airport hundreds of flights were cancelled and around 80,000 passengers were stranded. All over the city there was disruption.

Yet the subway system kept running. People were still out and about at bars and restaurants.

Late last night in the compound where I live, I helped my neighbours, including the elderly lady who lives opposite, to try to unblock the drains.

We lifted manhole covers and then another neighbour climbed down by torchlight to see if he could free whatever was bunging up the pipes. It was no use.

Rescuers try to pull a car from a flooded Beijing street. Credit: Reuters

The rain kept falling and all over the city sewers and drains couldn't cope.

We had to give up and accept that all our homes were filling up with water.

In the basement it flowed in ankle deep; clearly from the sights and smell it was raw sewage. It was the same for all the buildings in the compound.

So like many people today in this vast city of 20,000,000, I have been mopping up.

My worries about the damage to stored children's clothes and furniture are, of course, nothing compared to those who've lost loved ones.