The brand new Baoan terminal of the international airport in the southern boomtown of Shenzhen suffered severe flooding and water damage on Sunday after the city was battered by the heaviest rainstorm this year.
Several areas in the lower levels of the terminal, which went into operation only four months ago, were submerged after the terminal building experienced large-scale water leakage during Sunday's storms, which wreaked havoc across the Pearl River Delta.
Photos circulating online showed water pouring from the ceilings in scenes described by many passengers as “waterfalls” in different parts of the airport, with escalators, underground parking lots, roads and walkways swamped.
Passengers had to roll up their pants or walk bare footed through the flooded areas.
The airport said through its official microblog on Sunday night that the leaks had been stopped and clean-up of the remaining water had been completed by Sunday evening. Operations at all of the affected facilities had been resumed, it added.
But the water leakage sparked anger from some passengers and online users who questioned if it was a result of substandard construction.
Many online users referred to the airport as a result of “tofu construction”, a Chinese term used to describe poor building quality.
Airport officials attributed the difficulty of waterproofing the terminal to the “complicated design of the building”, said the New Express Daily.
Phone calls to the Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport were unanswered on Monday.
The severe weather condition also forced the cancellation of 93 flights and delayed 96 flights by at least two hours on Monday as of 1.30pm, in addition to the 254 flights cancelled on Sunday, according to the airport’s official microblog.
An estimated 5,000 passengers were forced to stay overnight at the airport.
CCTV reported that a number of stranded travellers on Sunday night clashed with airport staff during a protest demanding compensation.
Photos taken by people at the scene showed travellers occupying the work stations of airport staff, some sitting and standing on top of desks, during the negotiations. One photo showed a computer and other desk equipment that had been smashed, while another showed some lunch boxes ready to serve on planes had been thrown to the ground.
The situation was brought back down after police arrived at the scene, CCTV said. No one was reported injured.
Various areas in Shenzhen were deluged on Sunday evening due to heavy rainfall, causing traffic congestion across the city. The situation prompted the metropolitan government to issue its first city-wide red rainstorm alert since 2008 on Sunday night, before extending it to Monday afternoon and ordering the closure of all schools in the city.