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Flights delayed as storms slam Guangzhou airport

By Xu Jingxi in Guangzhou | China Daily | Updated: 2013-03-29 07:19

Ninety-two flights scheduled to take off at Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport were delayed for more than one hour by 8 pm on Thursday because of a thunderstorm that swept over Guangdong province, according to officials at the country's second-busiest airport.

Seventy flights were canceled by 8 pm and 42 flights that had been forced to land in other cities, the farthest being Guiyang in Guizhou province, were still waiting for permission to fly back to the provincial capital of Guangdong, said Hu Fang, a media officer with the airport.

"The airport is in good order. Passengers have shown understanding for the delays and cancellations caused by the thunderstorm," Hu said.

The airport has arranged accommodation for more than 1,000 passengers and offered food to more than 3,000. "We've received some complaints, but none of the passengers were excessive in their reactions," Hu said.

The thunderstorm was the fourth to hit the South China province in late March, according to Liang Jian, chief forecaster at the Guangdong Provincial Meteorological Bureau.

Gales of Level 8 to 10 accompanied heavy rain across the province. Hail hit Zhaoqing, Foshan and Jiangmen. The biggest rainfall was recorded in Yunfu, which received 105.9 mm.

"One more thunderstorm is expected to hit the province this weekend," Liang said. "Convective storms are common in Guangdong during March. In fact, the heavy rain came late on March 18 this year, and the rainfall before was 70 percent to 80 percent less than the average for that period in the past 30 years."

The Guangzhou Meteorological Observatory issued alerts for torrential rain twice on Thursday morning.

Feng Jiazhi, a 26-year-old event planner at South China Botanical Garden in Guangzhou, had to trade a formal suit for sandals and rolled-up trousers when he left his home at 7 am. A traffic jam caused by the rain made him late for work.

Around 10 am, a second thunderstorm shrouded the city. "It looked as if it were 10 pm rather than 10 am. I saw someone even saying online it was Doom's Day," Feng said.

"But I'm satisfied with how the government responded to the storms. Traffic police stuck to their posts in the downpour, and the weather forecast was correct and prompt."

Feng was worried that the streets would be flooded, but he didn't spot any serious problems on his way to work.

Guangzhou Water Authority said on Thursday night that at least six streets flooded during the storm but were cleared within 30 minutes.

"The city's drainage system is capable of handling today's heavy rain", the first extensive heavy rain to hit the city this year, Lu Shaokun, an officer with the water authority, told China Daily.

Zhao Hong, deputy director of the city management committee, announced a measure on Tuesday to prevent passers-by from falling into uncovered manholes.

"We will require the owners of drainage pits to assign one guard to stand by a pit if it needs to be uncovered to quickly drain off water in heavy rains. The guard is not allowed to leave until he or she places the cover back," he said.

The city management authority has vowed to install pit screens by the first half of this year in all of the 130,000 sewer and drainage pits across the city that are relatively deep.

Screens were installed in 80 percent of such sewer and drainage pits last year.

An accident last Friday in Hunan province has raised public awareness of the dangers posed by missing manholes. A young woman fell into an uncovered sewer during heavy rain and is still missing.

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