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Two killed as third flood hits Kunming

Updated: 2013-07-20 01:30
By Hu Yongqi and Guo Anfei ( China Daily)

Record-setting downpour traps thousands of cars on roadways

Heavy rains from Thursday until Friday flooded Kunming, capital of Yunnan province, killing two and paralyzing traffic for hours in the city's third major flood since a drought ended in May.

As of Friday afternoon, the downpour impacted the lives of more than 77,000 people. One person is still missing, according to the Yunnan Provincial Department of Civil Affairs.

Two killed as third flood hits Kunming

Kunming officials blamed poor drainage systems for the submerged streets that forced thousands of residents out of their flooded homes in the capital of Yunnan province on Friday. The capital had been battered by torrential rain since Thursday night. Hao Yaxin / Xinhua

The downpour began at 8 pm on Thursday and didn't end until 4 pm on Friday, leaving thousands of residents stuck in their cars on waterlogged roads. Northern Kunming suffered from the largest amount of rain.

The rain also set a record for a four-hour period, according to the Kunming Flood Control and Drought Relief Office. Between 1 am to 5 am on Friday, 214 millimeters of rain unloaded onto the city.

The Yunnan Provincial Department of Civil Affairs estimated economic losses from the flood at more than 84 million yuan ($14 million). Officials and experts said the city's poor drainage systems and inadequate flood control efforts were to blame for the deluge.

Kunming traffic police said the heavy rains paralyzed traffic for hours. All 264 bus routes in the city were affected, said Kunming General Bus Company. Thousands of cars were trapped on flooded roads and parking lots in residential areas.

On Thursday night, Hu Yangli returned home in Wuhua district at midnight, parked her car and went to bed. When the alarm clock woke her up at 7 am on Friday morning, her car's tires were submerged.

"I called friends looking for a carjack and some bricks to keep my exhaust pipe from being flooded. My efforts failed. My new car had to be towed for repair," said Hu.

Relegated to walking to the office, Hu said the water was up to her knees. Many people like her, she said, took off their socks and waded across the "urban rivers". Some stayed atop their vehicles waiting for help.

The rains swelled several rivers, including Panlong River. The floodwaters poured over the banks of the Panlong River that crosses into downtown Kunming.

Trains from cities such as Shanghai, Xiamen and Nanjing were delayed, but trains departing from Kunming departed on time, said Kunming Railway Bureau.

Rao Wenjing rushed to the Kunming Changshui International Airport in the morning, but was informed that his flight's attendants were still stuck in downtown Kunming because of the rain.

Guo Peisong, a spokesman for Yunnan Airport Group, said most flights were not affected by the deluge, though some passengers were stuck in the city and couldn't catch their flights.

The drainage system had some problems, Zhao Sidong, general manager of Kunming Drainage Management Co, was quoted by China News Service as saying.

Zhang Tianxin, Party chief of Kunming, said over the past four years, the city has focused on drought relief by storing available water resources. They did not, however, devote a great deal of effort to flood control measures.

Zhang said the city's urban planning and underground drainage system have flaws and were unable to draw off floodwaters.

"The government will spend more to solve the problem," Zhang said.

As estimated by the Meteorological Bureau of Kunming, the province will experience extreme weather systems, such as hails and rainstorms, in the next few weeks, which could cause more flooding and landslides.

Li Yingqing contributed to this story.



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