by Ryan Woo | Reuters
BEIJING: Heavy rains lashed the central Chinese province of Henan on Tuesday, causing major rivers to breach, flooding the streets of a dozen cities, and subway commuters trapped below waist-deep in floodwaters.
Henan, a populous province twice the size of Austria, has been hit by storms since the weekend during an unusually active rainy season.
There have been no deaths or casualties, but the daily life of 94 million people in the province has been affected by the transport shutdown.
Henan’s capital Zhengzhou, on the banks of the Yellow River, received more than 200 mm (7.8 inches) of rain in an hour on Tuesday, forcing the city to shut down all subway train services.
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Dramatic videos shared on social media showed passengers waist-deep in muddy flood waters 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, while many highways were closed and flights were delayed or cancelled.
In the southwest city of Ruzhou, Zhengzhou, roads were turned into torrential downpours, cars and other vehicles were swept away, footage on social media showed.
A rising Yi River also threatened to hit the Longmen Grottoes, a UNESCO World Heritage Site featuring millennium-old Buddhist sculptures carved into the limestone cliffs near Luoyang City.
Like the Longmen Grottoes, the Shaolin Temple in the city of Dengfeng, famous in the West for its martial arts, has been temporarily closed.
Also in Dengfeng, an aluminum alloy plant exploded on Tuesday as water from a river surged into the factory.
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 received more than 50 mm of rain, of which 1,614 were recorded above 100 mm and 151 above 250 mm.
According to the provincial weather bureau, Lushan city received the most rainfall at 498 mm.
“This is the heaviest rain since I was born, with many familiar places inundated,” said an Internet user in Gonghai city on Chinese social media.
The rain is expected to stop by Thursday.