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Tough Questions Surface After Deadly Beijing Rains

Citizens say city unprepared, neglects infrastructure
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 23, 2012 6:41 AM CDT

(Newser) – The death toll in the torrential rains and flooding that hit Beijing over the weekend has risen to 37, with 57,000 evacuated from neighborhoods swamped by rising waters, and $1.6 billion in damage, reports the New York Times. With more than six inches of rain falling over the weekend, the roofs of old homes collapsed, highway underpasses turned into lagoons, and downed power lines created electrical hazards. Officials say the city's sewer system simply could not handle the rain, the most Beijing has seen in 61 years.

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Now, many Beijing residents are demanding answers from its government, accusing it of neglecting basics like water drainage in the country's fast dash to modernity, reports the AP. "If so much chaos can be triggered in Beijing, the capital of the nation, problems in urban infrastructure of many other places can only be worse," wrote an editorial in one state-run newspaper. Counters a government engineer, "In just in one day, it rained as much as it normally rains in six months in Beijing. No drainage system can withstand rains this big." (Read more Beijing stories.)

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