Planes Grounded as Bad Weather Strikes Beijing
  2006-07-12 14:01:36

Bad weather caused at least 300 flights to be delayed at Beijing's Capital International Airport yesterday, while torrential rain continued to batter parts of the country.

"Thunderstorms and Typhoon Ewiniar have caused the problems," said Liu Yanan, an airport official.

"Thunderstorms covered the whole area around the airport, so none of our planes could take off," said Chen Xibing, a senior manager of operation control with Air China.

Most of Air China's planes returning to Beijing were ordered to land at other airports in nearby cities, he said.

Fortunately, the skies began to clear up in the afternoon.

"Operations returned to normal at around 3:30 pm, but flights with thunderstorms reported on the route will still have to wait," said Liu Yanan.

As Typhoon Ewiniar turned north towards the Korean Peninsula yesterday, Air China and China Eastern cancelled flights to South Korea.

"For the sake of passenger safety, we had to make such a decision in line with our emergency plan," said Chen Xibing.

Planes heading to Japan from Beijing made a detour around Shanghai and reached their destinations safely, he said.

Meanwhile, torrential rain in areas south of the Yangtze River has caused further damage.

In Central China's Hunan Province, mountain torrents in Loudi, Yiyang and four other cities have since July 6 affected more than 360,000 people due to power and communications disruption.

Local civil affairs departments relocated 720 residents in one emergency and more than 360 people became homeless after their houses were flattened by rising water levels, reports said.

Provincial authorities have allocated 1.5 million yuan (US$185,000) as emergency funds to disaster-hit Liuyang city.

Provincial meteorological departments have warned that the heavy rain would continue today.

In East China's Anhui Province, heavy rainfall hit Chuzhou and Bozhou yesterday morning, forcing local meteorological departments to issue warnings to local citizens, reports said.

Li Baojun, a disaster relief official, told China Daily yesterday that the Ministry of Civil Affairs is raising disaster release funds for hard-hit areas like Hunan Province and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

Geological disasters such as mud-flows and landslides, which are mainly caused by heavy rain, have left 121 people dead or missing in the first half of the year, the Ministry of Land and Resources said yesterday.

Casualties are slightly lower than the average figure of the past five years thanks to accurate forecasts, the ministry said.

From January to May, local land and resources departments successfully predicted 37 meteorological disasters and relocated 3,436 people in advance, ministry officials said.


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