Bloomberg News

Beijing Man’s Death in Flooded Car Spurs Run on Hammers

July 26, 2012

Sales of emergency hammers surged on China’s e-commerce sites after record rainstorms in Beijing last weekend killed 77 people, including a man who drowned when he was trapped in his car and couldn’t escape the floodwaters.

The top 10 sellers of the hammers on Taobao.com, China’s biggest e-commerce website, were all out of stock today, they said. Buyers were told they would be able to receive their orders in about two days.

The man’s drowning in his vehicle made methods for escaping a car flooding with water a popular topic in China, with the Beijing News publishing an article on its website today that described how to break a car window from the inside. The July 21 storm dumped as much as 16 inches of rain on Beijing, the most in six decades, the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported.

Users of China’s microblog services expressed skepticism about the government’s initial official death toll of 37 people. The Beijing municipal government today revised the tally to 77 after more bodies were retrieved, Xinhua reported.

Some hammer sellers posted pictures and videos purporting to show the man who drowned after his car got stuck in a flooded underpass in central Beijing and he couldn’t open the door to escape as the waters submerged his vehicle.

“We hope you never need this, but you must have one,” one seller’s website read.

Sales so far have been “beyond expectations,” one top seller, who would only give his surname, Zhang, said in a phone interview. He said he sold more than 2,000 hammers since the July 21 rainstorm and won’t have more until Aug. 8.

Beijing’s meteorological department forecast heavy rain for yesterday and companies posted notices on Sina Corp.’s Weibo microblog service allowing employees to go home early. The expected storm never arrived and there was light rainfall in Beijing today.

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Raymond Liu in Beijing at rliu118@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Hirschberg at phirschberg@bloomberg.net


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