Beijing Submerged After Worst Floods In 61 Years

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Torrential rains pounded Beijing on Saturday. According to state-run media, it was the worst seen in 61 years. Heavy flooding devastated the region. It caused well over a billion dollars in damage and forced mass evacuations.

Some of the worst-hit areas are in Beijing's rural Fangshan district. Here is what Fangshan looked like after almost 19 inches of rain.

Beijing released an official death toll of 37. But netizens were questioning the figure, with unconfirmed estimates on Chinese social media of hundreds dying in the floods.

It is part of a general practice in China to mistrust official statistics put out by the state. Earlier this month, China analyst Chen Pokong said that officials tend to underestimate official death tolls, as their jobs are tied to the numbers.

Chinese authorities are avoiding any major focus on the scale of the disaster. According to an internal memo from the Beijing Municipal Propaganda Department posted on China Digital Times, media reports on the rainstorms "must emphasize the power of human compassion over the elements."

Much of the flooding is being blamed on Beijing's inadequate sewage system, which couldn't deal with the floodwaters. The modern sewage system fails to rival the ancient ditches of the Forbidden City. The historical site was bone dry after the floods while most other areas were submerged in water.

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