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At least 25 dead in China as province inundated by heaviest rains in 1,000 years

BEIJING – At least 25 people were killed and large swathes of central China’s Henan Province were underwater on Wednesday, regional authorities said, after what some experts said was the heaviest rains in the region since 1 000 years old.

Some 1.2 million people have been affected by the ongoing natural disaster, officials said at a press conference. They said seven people are missing.

Earlier, the Henan Information Office announced the deaths of four people in Gongyi, a city on the banks of the Yellow River, adding to the 12 people who died while trapped in a subway train in Zhengzhou. , the capital of Henan, Tuesday. Both towns suffered a widespread collapse of houses and structures due to the rains.

Details have not yet been released on the location, time and circumstances of all the deaths.

A man wading in flood waters along a street following heavy rains in Zhengzhou, central China’s Henan Province, July 20, 2021.AFP – Getty Images

A social media video Tuesday showed chest-up commuters in murky flood water on a dark train and a subway station turned into a large, bubbling pool.

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“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.”

Due to the rain, authorities halted bus services because the vehicles are powered by electricity, a Zhengzhou resident named Guo, who spent the night in his office, told Reuters.

“This is why a lot of people took the subway, and the tragedy happened,” Guo said.

More rain is expected in Henan over the next three days, and the People’s Liberation Army has dispatched more than 3,000 troops and personnel to assist with search and rescue.

From Saturday to Tuesday, 24 inches of rain fell in Zhengzhou, almost equal to Zhengzhou’s annual average of 25 inches.

People crossed flood waters on a road amid heavy rains in Zhengzhou, Henan Province, China on Tuesday.Chinese Daily / Reuters

The lives of millions of people in Henan, a province of about 100 million people, have been turned upside down by an unusually active rainy season which has caused a number of rivers to rise rapidly in the vast river basin. Yellow.

“The flood prevention efforts have become very difficult,” President Xi Jinping said on Wednesday, referring to the situation in a statement broadcast by state television.

Local authorities said the rain had caused a 20-meter breach in the Yihetan Dam in Luoyang City west of Zhengzhou, and that the dam “could collapse at any time.”

About 100,000 people from the city have been evacuated to safe areas.

A series of 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 ).

Zhengzhou’s transportation system remained crippled, with schools and hospitals cut off by congestion.

Cars are in the floodwaters after heavy rains hit the city of Zhengzhou in central China’s Henan Province on Wednesday.AFP – Getty Images

The inhabitants caught in the flood had taken refuge in libraries, cinemas and even museums.

“We have up to 200 people of all ages looking for temporary shelter,” a staff member named Wang at the Zhengzhou Science and Technology Museum told Reuters.

“We provided them with instant noodles and hot water. They spent the night in a huge meeting room.”

Within 2 miles, Zhengzhou University’s first affiliated hospital – the city’s largest with more than 7,000 beds – lost all power, Reuters reported. Even relief supplies were down.

The hospital was rushing to find transportation to move around 600 critically ill patients.

Meanwhile, Hebei Province, which shares a border with Henan, has issued a storm alert for some cities, including its capital Shijiazhuang, with moderate to heavy rains expected from Wednesday.

Alex Smith reported from London; Dawn Liu reported from Beijing.

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