The Associated Press
BEIJING: China’s military has blown up a dam to release floodwaters to one of its most populous provinces, as the death toll in widespread floods has risen to at least 25.
The dam operation in Luoyang city late Tuesday, just as severe flooding hit the Henan provincial capital Zhengzhou, trapping residents in the subway system and trapping them in schools, apartments and offices.
Provincial officials told a news conference that seven other people were reported missing.
A video posted on Twitter by news site The Paper shows metro commuters standing chest-high in muddy gray water as streams rise in the tunnel outside.
Transport and work have been disrupted across the province, with rain turning roads into fast-flowing rivers, washing out cars and rushing into people’s homes.
According to Caixin, a commercial news magazine, at least 10 trains carrying about 10,000 passengers were stopped, including three for more than 40 hours. The transport ministry said on its social media account that sections of 26 highways have been closed due to rain.
According to the city’s Communist Party committee, a blackout at Zhengzhou University’s first affiliated hospital shut down ventilators, forcing staff to use hand-pumped airbags to help them breathe. It said over 600 patients were being shifted to other hospitals.
According to the Henan Business Daily newspaper report, a woman boarding a subway in a flooded tunnel told her husband that the water had almost reached his neck and that passengers were having trouble breathing.
It said staff at a metro station told her husband that all the passengers had been evacuated, but admitted that was not the case when he started a video chat with his wife on his cellphone, which showed that She was still on board.
The exact time and place of the deaths and disappearances was not immediately clear, although the province said more than 100,000 people had been evacuated.
Henan province has many cultural sites and is a major base for industry and agriculture. It is surrounded by several waterways, many of them connected to the Yellow River, which has a long history of eroding its banks during periods of intense rainfall.
State media on Wednesday showed water at waist height while the rain was still receding.
In the north of Zhengzhou, the famous Shaolin Temple, known for its martial arts mastery of Buddhist monks, was also badly affected.
China regularly experiences flooding during the summer, but the impact of such events has been worsened by the growth of cities and the conversion of agricultural land into subdivisions.
UN Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq said on Wednesday that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres sent a letter to Chinese President Xi Jinping “to express his heartfelt condolences on the tragic loss of life and devastation”.