For the second time in 2 years China is reeling from massive flooding that has left death and destruction in its wake.
Last weekend Beijing, China‘s capital, experienced its biggest rainstorm in 60 years. Rain flooded streets and underpasses, caused buildings to collapse and led to 37 confirmed fatalities.
Many residents were critical of the preparations and handling by the Chinese authorities, who announced in 2010 the development of a flood risk map to identify those regions most at risk. The city has been modernized so quickly – with much of the most recent focus around the 2008 Olympic Games – critics are suggesting that essential infrastructure improvements including drainage have not kept pace.
In defense, Ministry of Transport Engineers argue that no city could cope with what equates to six months’ average rainfall in a single day.
Most embarrassing for the Chinese authorities was the closure of Beijings airport – stranding tens of thousands and preventing hundreds of flights from coming in or out. China relies heavily on international business visitors as it continues its global expansion of trade.
One silver lining from the catastrophic events in Beijing was the performance of the Three Gorges Dam, which this week began using the final 32 of its hydroelectric generators making it the world’s biggest power plant of this type. The dam appears to have come through the flood peak unscathed and protected areas in the lower Yangtze river from further damage. The plant can now provide the equivalent output of 15 nuclear reactors to the increasingly energy-hungry nation. What isn’t known is whether massive amounts of trash, which clogged the dam after last year’s rains will return to cause further problems.
- Giant Beijing Rainstorm Triggers Citizens’ Anger – Businessweek (businessweek.com)
- China Names Acting Beijing Mayor as City Tackles Flood Aftermath – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)
- 95 killed and 45 missing in recent rainstorms in China (fmnnow.com)