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People shelter from the rain with umbrellas in Beijing. Image Credit: AFP

Beijing: Swathes of northern China were under red alert on Monday as heavy rains battered Beijing and surrounding areas, washing away cars and inundating subway stations.

Deadly storm Doksuri has been sweeping northwards over China since Friday, with authorities warning millions of people to stay home.

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Hundreds of bus services in the capital were suspended, according to state news agency Xinhua, while the city government issued the highest flood warning for the suburban Dashihe River.

Footage shared with AFP by a resident of the southern Fengtai district showed a parked van half-submerged in fast-flowing brown water on Monday morning as the rain continued to fall.

A section of road surface in the outer Fangshan district caved in under rising water, local media reported.

Social media users uploaded footage of vehicles swept away by muddy torrents and thoroughfares turned into rapids on the outskirts of the city.

In one clip posted on Monday on the Instagram-like Xiaohongshu platform and geolocated by AFP, murky water can be seen swamping a large intersection in the outer Mentougou district next to high-rise apartment blocks.

And rainwater appeared to flow onto a subway platform in western Beijing's university district in another Xiaohongshu video from Sunday geolocated by AFP.

Extreme weather

The streets of central Beijing were quieter than usual on Monday morning as residents heeded official recommendations to work from home, with only a handful of delivery drivers braving pools of water seen in usually packed bike lanes.

The governments of Beijing and neighbouring Hebei province renewed red alerts for rainstorms on Monday.

China has been experiencing extreme weather conditions and posting record temperatures this summer, events that scientists say are being exacerbated by climate change.

Experts have warned that the ongoing downpour could prompt even worse flooding than in July 2012, when 79 people died and tens of thousands were evacuated, according to local media.

An average of 170.9 millimetres of rain inundated Beijing in 40 hours between Saturday night and noon on Monday, the Beijing Meteorological Bureau said.

That is nearly equivalent to the average rainfall for the entire month of July, according to official records.