Severe flooding brings traffic chaos to Tianjin

PUBLISHED : Friday, 27 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 27 July, 2012, 12:00am


Heavy rain that hit Tianjin yesterday unleashed severe flooding and paralysed traffic, although there were no reports of fatalities. Unlike in Beijing, residents said they had received government warnings on their mobile phones.

Zhang Jinguo, who owns the Jiuhe Fishing Gear shop in Qingnian Road, saw a small river nearby burst its banks, sending waves of water onto the street. Zhang said the water level was high but it had not reached his shop, in part due to a brief respite in the downpour in the afternoon.

'Starting from last night I received three warning messages from the municipal government on my cellphone. They warned us that there would be a big downpour and advised everyone to stay home if possible,' Zhang said.

'Now almost every road is flooded, the bus service has been postponed and lower-lying areas are submerged. The government has learned a lesson from the failures in Beijing and made efforts to deliver information to people. That helps.'

The rain left traffic at a standstill for hours, Xinhua reported. There were more than 140 reports of floods on downtown roads.

The situation worsened when water levels in small rivers rose and spilled into nearby areas.

Xiqing district had received the most rain, 309mm, while the average rainfall in downtown areas was almost 150mm by 10am.

All flights at Tianjin airport were cancelled or delayed in the morning.

It is not known how many travellers were affected, but Tianjin traffic radio said more than 20 flights had been cancelled. Only train services remained relatively normal, with high speed trains between Beijing and Tianjin operating on schedule.

Some people took a light-hearted approach to the downpour. Internet users posted photos showing people driving small motorboats down heavily flooded streets for fun.

There were complaints about the drainage system.

A manager at Wenbaozhai, an antiques shop in Classic Cultural Street, said the downpour exposed the city's fragile drainage system and the government should learn from the flooding to improve underground facilities. She declined to be named.

Meanwhile, the Hebei government continued searching for victims at a tourist site near Beijing.

Xinhua yesterday quoted government figures showing 26 were killed and 20 missing in Baoding city. Yesanpo, where 11,000 tourists were trapped by floods and mudslides on Saturday, is part of Baoding.

Xinhua said Yesanpo had been paralysed by the floods, as all its infrastructure such as roads and telecommunications, were seriously damaged.