Heavy flooding in central China leaves 12 dead, displaces thousands


At least 12 people died in severe flooding Tuesday in a Chinese provincial capital, as the waters also trapped people in subways and schools, washed away vehicles and stranded people in their workplaces overnight.

The already-drenched city of Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan province, saw 200 millimetres of rain from 4 to 5 p.m., the official Xinhua News Agency said, citing the Henan weather agency.

Henan, a populous province double the size of Austria, has been hit by storms since the weekend in an unusually active rainy season.

Xinhua said that 12 had died and 100,000 people had been moved to safer places. 

The deluge in Zhengzhou, located on the banks of the Yellow River, forced the city to stop all subway train services.

People move through floodwater after a heavy downpour in Zhengzhou city in central China’s Henan province on Tuesday. (Chinatopix/The Associated Press)

Dramatic video shared on social media showed commuters waist-deep in murky floodwaters on a subway train and an underground station turned into a large, churning pool.

Henan is a major logistics hub, but train services were suspended, many highways were closed and flights were delayed or cancelled.

In Ruzhou, a city southwest of Zhengzhou, streets have been turned into torrents, sweeping away cars and other vehicles, footage on social media showed.

The State Grid Zhengzhou Power Supply Co. said a downtown substation was forced to shut down because of the rain.

Some vehicles were stranded after the heavy rain in Zhengzhou on Tuesday. This rainy season has been unusually active. (Chinatopix/The Associated Press)

Historic sites closed 

Some people were spending the night in their workplaces or checked into hotels.

Wang Guirong, a 56-year-old restaurant manager, said she planned to sleep on the couch in her restaurant after being told there was no power in her neighbourhood.

“I have lived in Zhengzhou all my life and have never seen such a heavy rainstorm as today,” Wang said.

A resident wearing a rain cover stands on a flooded road in Zhengzhou on Tuesday. No deaths or casualties have been reported. (cnsphoto/Reuters)

A rising Yi River also threatened to hit the Longmen Grottoes, a UNESCO World Heritage site featuring millennium-old Buddhist statues etched into limestone cliffs near the city of Luoyang.

Like the Longmen Grottoes, the Shaolin Temple in Dengfeng city, famous in the West for its martial arts, has been temporarily shut.

Also in Dengfeng, an aluminum alloy plant exploded on Tuesday as water from a river surged into the factory.

Nearly 50 cm of rainfall in Lushan 

At least 31 large and medium-sized reservoirs in the province have exceeded their warning levels.

From Saturday to Tuesday, 3,535 weather stations in Henan saw rainfall exceed 50 millimetres, of which 1,614 registered levels above 100 millimetres and 151 above 250 millimetres.

The highest was in Lushan city, which saw 498 millimetres of rain, according to the provincial weather bureau.

Vehicles and residents move through a heavy downpour in Zhengzhou on Tuesday. (Chinatopix/The Associated Press)

Rain is forecast to stop by Thursday.

China experiences regular flooding during the summer months, but the growth of cities and conversion of farmland into subdivisions has raised the costs of such events.

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