Death toll from Beijing rainstorm climbs to 77

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Firefighters pull a submerged car near Guangqumen Bridge in Beijing, capital of China, July 21, 2012. Beijing received 117 mm of precipitation on average as of 8 p.m., with a township in the suburban Mentougou district hit by the largest of 345 mm, according to the Beijing Meteorological Bureau. The agency issued its first orange rainstorm alert warning since 2005 Saturday evening as the rain is forecast to last over 20 hours till Sunday morning. [Photo: Xinhua] 

The death toll from rain-triggered disasters and accidents on Saturday in the Chinese capital climbed to 77 after more bodies were recovered, the Beijing flood control headquarters said Thursday.

Of the 77 victims, 66 have been identified, including five people who died while carrying out rescue work, Pan Anjun, a spokesman for the headquarters, said Thursday night.

Of the other 61 victims -- 36 men and 25 women -- 46 drowned, five were electrocuted, three died in housing collapses, two by mudslide, two by traumatic shock, two from being hit by falling objects and one was struck by lightning, Pan said.

He said a further sharp increase in the death toll is not likely because the search for missing persons is drawing to an end. "But we will not give up searching just yet," Pan said.

Most of the bodies were found in suburban districts, including 38 bodies that were recovered in the hardest-hit Fangshan district, he said.

The list of victims shows that an 8-month-old girl was among the deceased, with drowning listed as the cause of her death.

The spokesman added that the reasons the death toll was not updated until Thursday evening were because it was difficult to comb through the rain-triggered mudslide debris and identifying the bodies also took time.

The heaviest rain in six decades lashed Beijing on Saturday. Average precipitation hit 170 mm, while a township in the suburban district of Fangshan recorded 460 mm of rain.

On behalf of the flood control headquarters, Pan expressed deep condolences to the deceased and their families and promised to draw lessons from this tragedy and improve the capacity to handle similar disasters in the future.

As Chinese students are on summer holiday, a period that often features a high incidence of accidents, the Ministry of Education issued an emergency order Thursday, asking schools, students and their parents to be on guard for adverse weather events.

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