At least 25 people were killed including 12 who were trapped in a flooded subway in Zhengzhou, the capital of central China’s Henan province, following rare torrential rains in recent history in the region.
Photographs and videos posted on social media showed commuters trapped in chest-deep floodwaters on a train in the dark on a subway line in Zhengzhou city with a population of around 12 million.
More than 500 people were evacuated from the subway system late on Tuesday night; in all about 200,000 people had to be relocated in the city because of the rainfall.
The highest-level emergency alert notice has been issued across the province.
President Xi Jinping on Wednesday instructed authorities to deploy the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to rescue those stuck in inundated subways, hotels and public places.
The PLA has deployed 3,000 personnel to help local authorities in flood control and evacuation.
There were fears over the collapse of a dam posing further flood risk to the provincial capital of Zhengzhou, located on the banks of the Yellow river.
Local media reported widespread collapse of homes and structures because of the rains in the central province.
“From 8pm on July 17 to 8pm on Tuesday [July 20], total precipitation of 617.1mm was recorded in Zhengzhou, close to the city’s average annual precipitation of 640.8mm, said the city’s meteorological bureau,” Xinhua news agency reported.
The city registered 201.9mm of rainfall between 4pm and 5pm on Tuesday, a record hourly high for the Chinese mainland.
The city also broke its own single-day precipitation record, hitting its highest level since Zhengzhou’s weather station was established in 1951, the Xinhua report said.
Water levels of small and medium-sized rivers and reservoirs on the Yellow River and Haihe River basins have risen rapidly in the region, and large-scale urban and farmland water logging have occurred, the report added.
State media quoted President Xi as saying that rainfall has made the flood control situation very severe, causing severe water logging in Zhengzhou and other cities.
Water levels in some rivers have exceeded warning levels, causing damages to dams of some reservoirs, Xi said, adding that sections of railways have also been shut down.
“For four consecutive days starting on July 17, torrential rains have battered the central and western areas of Henan province and are expected to continue until Wednesday night,” Zhang Ning, chief forecaster of the provincial meteorological observatory, told Xinhua.
Zhang said that the special terrain on Henan’s Taihang and Funiu mountains had uplifted the easterly air, causing heavy rains, which are likely to persist in the mountainous western and northwestern areas of the province.