According to a Beijing television report, in the worst of the downpours ordinary motorists offered free rides to those who were stranded, including some of the 80,000 travellers stranded at the airport after flights were cancelled.

But most web users took a more negative view.

"Beijing has been defeated by a huge rain storm, the city's infrastructure has failed, there is nothing here to be proud of," posted one on Sina Weibo, under the name Zhulidemixu.

In neighbouring Hebei province, which surrounds Beijing, three people lost their lives in the downpours and one person was missing, reports said.

Meanwhile, the official Xinhua news agency reported torrential rains on Friday and Saturday left 17 people missing in north China's Shaanxi province, while eight people were confirmed dead due to heavy downpours in Sichuan province, in the nation's southwest.

China is routinely ravaged by summertime flooding, which normally wreaks havoc in regions along the central Yangtze river and in the nation's south.

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