At Least 20 Killed Amid Rare Torrential Rain, Flooding in Central China

Vehicles are stranded after a heavy downpour in Zhengzhou city, central China's Henan province on July 20, 2021. (Chinatopix Via AP)
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BY FRANK YUE

At least 20 people have been killed and more than 100,000 people have been forced to evacuate amid three consecutive days of extreme rainfall that has caused severe flooding in central China’s Henan province, according to reports.

A Chinese state media outlet reported in the early hours of Wednesday that 12 people have been killed. Radio Free China reported on its official Chinese Twitter account that the death tolls stands at at least 20.

Since Monday, the extreme rainfall has caused massive traffic mayhem, as well as flight and high-speed rail line suspensions or delays, per local reports. According to the reports, an unknown number of subway riders and residents have drowned or have been carried away by the strong currents, and cars have also been washed off the streets.

In Zhengzhou city, the capital of Henan on the banks of the Yellow River with a population of over 12 million people, a short video shows subway riders trapped in a waterlogged subway car that stopped moving between Haitansi and Shakou Road stations on July 20.

The passengers were ultimately rescued. An on-site witness said that several bodies were carried out from the carriage that appeared to be likely dead. Another person appeared to have been receiving cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

Multiple subway entrances also closed amid the continued rainfall. According to reports, these included the F to Shilipu East station along the subway Line 4 in the city. Electric buses in the city also suspended service since 2:30 p.m. local time on Tuesday.

A local official microblog said that the capital’s flood control and prevention authority upgraded emergency response level from II to I from 5 p.m. on Tuesday.

China Flooding
People move through flood water after a heavy downpour in Zhengzhou city, central China’s Henan province on July 20, 2021. (Chinatopix Via AP)

As of Tuesday, five national weather stations in the province all have reached a record high of three consecutive days’ rainfall since the start of their service, which are respectively located in:  Songshan (512.2 mm), Gongyi (358.9 mm), Xinmi (324.8 mm), Yanshi (290.4 mm), and Dengfeng (288.3 mm).

Flood control level has been exceeded in 31 large and midsize reservoirs in Henan. Severe flood disasters are likely to take place in mountainous rivers as the rain continues.

The provincial emergency response level has been upgraded from IV to III since Tuesday 4 p.m. local time.

By official statistics, heavy rainfall affected more than 140,000 people in 17 counties and districts under the jurisdiction of Pingdingshan, Anyang, Jiaozuo, Sanmenxia, Nanyang, Xinyang, Zhoukou, and Zhumadian cities, with more than 9,200 hectares of crops flooded and direct financial losses of more than 72 million yuan (about $11.1 million) since July 16.

In Mihe Town, Gongyi city, the road leading to the town was destroyed on Tuesday. A local communications signal tower was also damaged, with parts of the signals cut off.

China’s National Meteorological Center issued an orange rainstorm warning at 10 a.m. on Tuesday. It predicted that torrential rain and downpour would hit north, central, and west Henan, south Hebei, southeast Shanxi, among other areas. It said heavy downpour would strike part of north Henan with a precipitation of 250-280 mm within 24 hours—from 2 p.m. Tuesday to 2 p.m. on Wednesday.

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