12 killed, 200,000 evacuated as incessant rainfall batters central China city

At least 12 people were killed and more than 500 rescued after a subway line was flooded in Zhengzhou city, in China’s central Henan province, which has been hit by the highest daily rainfall, local media said on Wednesday. Authorities have issued the highest warning levels for the province as the situation is expected to worsen. The municipal meteorological bureaus of Henan province as well as Zhengzhou have raised the emergency response for the disaster to level I.

Zhengzhou, which has a population of more than 12 million, saw a record-high hourly precipitation of 201.9 mm from 4pm to 5pm on Tuesday, according to the Henan provincial meteorological centre. “As of 7am on July 21, almost 200,000 people were evacuated in an emergency and 36,000 city residents were affected by the disaster,” the city authorities said.

Images shared on social media showed passengers dealing with the rising water levels inside a train carriage. Rescue and relief authorities had to cut open the roof of the carriage to pull out people to safety, news agency AFP reported.

The heavy downpour in Zhengzhou has also led to severe waterlogging in several areas. More than 80 bus lines have been suspended and more than 100 have been temporarily detoured. The subway service has also been temporarily shut.

The level of rainfall in the city witnessed over the three days was one seen only “once in a thousand years”, local media cited meteorologists as saying, according to Reuters. The city’s Guojiazui reservoir has also been breached.

State media further reported that Zhengzhou’s transportation system continues to remain paralysed and schools and hospitals in the city have also been cut off due to severe waterlogging.

Since Tuesday, several kindergarten children have been trapped in their schools while a large hospital in the city, which has more than 7,000 beds, has no power and all back up supplies are exhausted, according to the People’s Daily. The First Affiliated Hospital of Zhengzhou had been rushing to find transportation to shift about 600 critically ill patients, the People’s Daily added.

On the other hand, roads in a dozen populous cities of the Henan province are also flooded. Images and videos shared on social media showed people wading across the streets amid the high current of water. Henan is a major logistics hub in central China and is also home to several cultural sites.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, meanwhile, has described the flooding menace in Henan province as extremely severe, adding flood prevention efforts have become difficult. “Some rivers have exceeded monitoring levels, some dams have broken down, while some railway services have stopped and flights cancelled, causing heavy casualties and property losses,” Jinping said on Wednesday.

(With agency inputs)