At least 25 dead as rains flood central China’s Henan province
- Heavy rains have hit Henan since the weekend; more rain forecast
- Provincial capital Zhengzhou, a dozen more cities flooded
- Twelve dead in the flooded metro of the provincial capital
- “Flood prevention efforts are very difficult,” Xi says
- “No direct impact” on Zhengzhou iPhone assembly plant – Foxconn
BEIJING, July 21 (Reuters) – At least 25 people have died in flood-stricken central Henan Province, including a dozen on a subway line in its capital Zhengzhou, and more rains are expected in the area.
About 100,000 people were evacuated to Zhengzhou, an industrial and transportation hub, where rail and road links were disrupted. Dams and reservoirs have reached alert levels and thousands of troops are helping with rescue efforts in the province.
Twelve people have died and more than 500 have been taken to safety after a subway tunnel flooded, state media reported, while social media images showed train commuters submerged in the waters up to to the chest in the dark and a station reduced to a large brown swimming pool. Read more
“The water reached my chest,” one survivor wrote on social media. “I was really scared, but the most terrifying thing was not the water, but the decrease in the air supply in the car.”
The rain interrupted bus services in the city of 12 million people about 650 km (400 miles) southwest of Beijing, said a resident named Guo, who had to spend the night in his office. .
“This is why many people took the subway and the tragedy happened,” Guo told Reuters.
At least 25 people have died in the torrential rains that have hit the province since last weekend, and seven people are missing, officials said at a press conference on Wednesday.
Media said the dead included four residents of Gongyi Town, located on the banks of the Yellow River like Zhengzhou, following widespread collapse of houses and structures due to the rains.
More rain is expected in Henan over the next three days, and the People’s Liberation Army has sent more than 5,700 troops and personnel to help with search and rescue.
From Saturday to Tuesday, 617.1 mm (24.3 inches) of rain fell in Zhengzhou, almost equivalent to its annual average of 640.8 mm (25.2 inches).
The three days of rain corresponded to a level observed “once in a thousand years,” the Zhengzhou Meteorological Bureau said.
Like the recent heat waves in the United States and Canada and the extreme flooding seen in Western Europe, rainfall in China was almost certainly linked to global warming, scientists told Reuters.
“Such extreme weather events are likely to become more frequent in the future,” said Johnny Chan, professor of atmospheric sciences at the City University of Hong Kong.
“What is needed is for governments to develop strategies to adapt to such changes,” he added, referring to authorities at municipal, provincial and national levels.
“DIFFICULT FLOOD PREVENTION”
Many rail services have been suspended in Henan, a logistics hub of around 100 million people. Highways have also been closed and flights delayed or canceled.
Media on Wednesday said food and water supplies were depleted for hundreds of passengers stranded on a train that had stopped just beyond the city limits of Zhengzhou two days earlier.
Roads were severely flooded in a dozen towns in the province.
“The flood prevention efforts have become very difficult,” President Xi Jinping said in a statement released by state television.
Dozens of reservoirs and dams have exceeded danger levels.
Local authorities said the rain caused a 20-meter breach in the Yihetan Dam in Luoyang City west of Zhengzhou, and the dam could collapse at any time.
In Zhengzhou itself, where around 100,000 people have been evacuated, the Guojiazui reservoir has been breached, but there has not yet been a dam failure.
Chinese companies, insurers and a state-backed bank said they offered donations and emergency aid to local governments in Henan in the amount of 1.935 billion yuan ($ 299 million).
Foxconn of Taiwan (2317.TW), which operates an Apple iPhone assembly plant in Zhengzhou (AAPL.O), said there was no direct impact on the facility.
China’s largest automaker, SAIC Motor (600104.SS), has warned of a short-term impact on its plant’s logistics, while Japan’s Nissan (7201.T) said its plant’s output had been suspended.
Schools and hospitals were abandoned and people caught in the floods flocked to seek refuge in libraries, cinemas and museums.
“We have up to 200 people of all ages looking for temporary shelter,” said a staff member named Wang at the Zhengzhou Science and Technology Museum.
“We provided them with instant noodles and hot water. They spent the night in a huge meeting room.”
After Zhengzhou’s first affiliated hospital, the city’s largest, lost power, authorities rushed to find transportation for around 600 critically ill patients.
Neighboring Hebei province has issued a storm alert for some cities, including Shijiazhuang, its capital, warning of moderate to heavy rains starting Wednesday.
(This story has been passed on to remove related content)
Reporting by Sameer Manekar in Bengaluru, Josh Horwitz and Jing Wang in Shanghai, and Stella Qiu, Roxanne Liu, Cheng Leng, Yilei Sun, Judy Hua and Ryan Woo in Beijing; Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in Taipei, Beijing Newsroom and Kanupriya Kapoor in Singapore; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell, Clarence Fernandez and Angus MacSwan
Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.