Storms disrupt Beijing flights, flash floods warned

Chinese men sit under their umbrellas during a dinner at a restaurant as it rains in Beijing on Wednesday. (EPA photo)

BEIJING - Thunderstorms lashed Beijing on Saturday, disrupting hundreds of flights at one of the world's largest airports, while authorities warned that rain and wind could cause landslides in the area where a 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck this week.

Beijing city authorities issued a "yellow" weather alert on Saturday morning, warning that lightning, hail, wind and as much as 70mm of rain would hit the city, potentially causing flash floods in mountainous areas.

Beijing Capital International Airport Co Ltd urged travellers, in a statement on its website, to check for updates on their flights into and out of the city.

Almost 500 flights were listed as cancelled from 9am until midnight local time and 182 were delayed at China's busiest airport, the website showed.

Air China Ltd said on its Weibo social media account that some 137 of its flights in and out of the capital had been cancelled as of 11am local time.

Torrential rain storms are fairly frequent in Beijing in the summer months, often causing long delays at the airport.

In a statement, China's National Meteorological Centre cautioned rescue crews working in Jiuzhaigou, in the southwestern province of Sichuan, to be on alert for landslides and lightning.

Heavy rain was expected across south-eastern China on Saturday, it said.

The extreme weather came after a tornado struck Inner Mongolia on Friday, killing five people, injuring more than 50 and destroying homes in a major city.

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