Cleanup continues as highway reopens
Updated: 2012-07-25 08:10
By Li Yao (China Daily)
The Beijing-Hong Kong-Macao expressway reopened to traffic shortly before noon Tuesday after workers finished moving 81 vehicles that had been abandoned during Saturday's massive downpour.
Ten divers and hundreds of rescuers spent two days pulling submerged cars off the expressway in Beijing, rescuers said. A 900-meter-long section of the Beijing-Hong Kong-Macao expressway was submerged in water 4 meters deep, the municipal government said. One lane heading out of the city was still closed on Tuesday.
Saturday's rainstorm, the worst to hit Beijing in 61 years, left 37 people dead and forced the evacuation of 77,325 others.
At a late-night meeting shortly before midnight Monday with high-ranking municipal officials, Beijing Mayor Guo Jinlong said top priorities are releasing the disaster death toll as quickly as possible, returning evacuated residents after roads and houses are repaired, and compiling a detailed estimate of the damage.
The municipal government has allocated 100 million yuan ($15.7 million) for a relief fund for those who were evacuated, families of those who died, and other affected households that are struggling financially because of the floods.
Donation centers under the Beijing Civil Affairs Bureau have sent 8.61 million yuan in relief goods to the worst-hit districts, including Fangshan, Tongzhou, Mentougou and Fengtai, said Huang Yong, an official from the donation center.
Summer clothes and blankets are in short supply. Residents are encouraged to donate unused ones because distribution teams on the field are ill-equipped to disinfect old clothes, he said.
On Tuesday, the capital called for public donations to support the 1.9 million people affected by the flooding. Dozens of charitable organizations in Beijing are seeking donations, and promising to use the money exclusively for disaster relief.
The government in Shifang, Sichuan province, has donated 1 million yuan.
Damage to vehicles has been staggering. The China Insurance Regulatory Commission Beijing Bureau said insurance companies in the capital had received 27,459 claims on vehicles that had been damaged by the floods, with total compensation claims projected to be 220 million yuan.
Meanwhile, the Railway Administration of Beijing sent more than 1,000 workers to repair waterlogged railway lines and several parts of the Beijing-Yuanping rail tracks covered by mudslides. The entire network resumed normal operations mid-Monday afternoon. Temporary passenger trains have been bringing to Beijing more than 12,000 people who were at tourist sites where transportation, telecommunications and electricity were cut.
Nationwide, torrential rains have ravaged 22 provincial-level regions since July 20, leaving 111 dead and another 47 missing, the Ministry of Civil Affairs said on Tuesday.
As of 2 pm Tuesday, natural disasters caused by the downpours have affected nearly 9.2 million people in 353 counties and forced the evacuation of nearly 1.18 million people, the ministry said in a statement.
Xinhua contributed to this story.
(China Daily 07/25/2012 page5)