At least 25 people were killed as torrential rain lashed China’s central province of Henan, Reuters reported on Wednesday.
Out of these, twelve persons died in a flooded subway line in the province’s capital of Zhengzhou. Five others were injured in the incident.
Four deaths were reported from the city of Gongyi, which is located along the Yellow river. The city has suffered widespread collapse of homes and structures due to the rain.
Visuals on social media showed people standing in a subway train as water gushes through the coach, and cars stuck on a flooded street.
Earlier, authorities in Zhengzhou had halted the bus service due to the heavy rainfall. “That’s why many people took the subway, and the tragedy happened,” a resident surnamed Guo told Reuters.
Many stranded people spent the night in their workplaces or checked into hotels. Wang Guirong, a 56-year-old restaurant manager, told AP that she planned to sleep on the couch in her restaurant as 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.
To the north of Zhengzhou, the Shaolin Temple, known for its Buddhist monks’ mastery of martial arts, was badly hit.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has deployed the Army to rescue those trapped in inundated subways, hotels and public places, amid fears of collapse of a dam posing flood risk to the provincial capital. Jinping said that authorities at all levels must give top priority to ensuring the safety of people and property, PTI reported.
The People’s Liberation Army has said on Sina Weibo, China’s Twitter-like social media platform, that a 20-meter-long crevasse had appeared in the dam in Yichuan county of Henan province and could collapse any time.
Authorities have suspended over 80 bus lines and detoured more than 100 of them. The subway service has also been temporarily suspended, PTI reported.
On Tuesday, the downtown area of Zhengzhou received an average precipitation of 457.5 mm within 24 hours. This was the highest daily rainfall since the weather record began, Xinhua reported.
China regularly experiences flooding during the summer. However, the recent record-breaking level of rainfall has alarmed scientists and officials, raising questions as to whether the country is prepared to deal with the extreme weather, CNN reported.
Last week, a report released by Greenpeace East Asia found that major metropolitan regions around Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou-Shenzhen were under threat from extreme heat and rainfall. The risk is highest in dense city centres, but is growing faster for urbanising communities on the outskirts, it added.