The heaviest rainfall in decades has triggered massive flooding in the central Chinese metropolis of Zhengzhou. State media initially reported twelve deaths. But many more victims were feared. The floodwaters inundated the subway, where hundreds of people were trapped on trains and also in tunnels, as state media and eyewitnesses reported on social media. Videos showed how the water was up to their shoulders in some cases.
During evacuations, more than 100,000 people were brought to safety, as the "People's Newspaper" reported. Among them were also about 600 seriously ill patients from a hospital of Zhengzhou University. The power in the hospital had failed. In southern Zhengzhou, the Guojiaju water reservoir dam burst in the early hours of Wednesday (local time), state television reported. Details were not initially released.
"Rainfall like this usually comes only once in 100 years. The situation is grim," reported the crisis management team of the provincial capital of Henan, which has a population of nine million, according to "China Daily." Apparently, people also died in the subway. A photo posted on social media showed two people lying lifeless on the platform of a Line 5 station. Cloths covered their faces.
In the metropolis, many streets were flooded. Some turned into raging torrents. Cars were floating in the floods. The water and electricity supply was interrupted in many places. Traffic was paralyzed. Buses were stuck. The subway network was closed, high-speed trains were suspended. Thousands of travelers were stuck at the train station. Zhengzhou airport canceled 270 flights.
State media and the Weibo short message service also circulated videos of dramatic rescues, with people being rescued from raging brown floodwaters. Internet users complained, however, that state censors also deleted posts.The unusually heavy rains in Henan were triggered by Typhoon "In-Fa." The cyclone also caused severe weather in Zhejiang and Fujian provinces. Henan province has already been hit by heavy rains since last week. Water levels of tributaries of the Yellow River and Haihe River exceeded alert levels, Xinhua news agency reported. More heavy rains and flooding were expected. Damage to agriculture runs into the millions.
In Zhengzhou, meteorologists said it was the heaviest rainfall in 60 years. Severe storms were also reported in southern China, where another typhoon named "Cempaka" made landfall near the city of Yangjiang in Guangdong province with winds of up to 110 kilometers per hour. In northern China, there was also severe flooding in Inner Mongolia.
Photo by Jonathan Ford