At least 12 people died in Zhengzhou, a city in central China, after heavy flooding triggered by days of heavy rains.
The rain swept through the streets in the capital of Henan Province, forcing motorists to wade through waist-deep water that partially submerged and even washed away cars.
The flood also submerged the Zhengzhou subway. Train passengers posted videos on social media awaiting rescue in waist-deep muddy water. A passenger named Xiaopei posted on Weibo that “the water in the carriage had reached their chest.”
Dozens of reservoirs and dams have reached a tipping point. Local authorities warned that the Yihetan dam in the nearby city of Luoyang was on the verge of collapse.
Authorities have evacuated 100,000 residents to safe zones.
Henan province, which has a population of about 94 million people, has experienced heavy rains this week. Weather experts said Zhengzhou had three days of rain, the usual yearly rainfall.
A city representative Xu Liyi, a member of the Standing Committee of the Communist Party of Henan province, and the secretary of the Zhengzhou City Party Committee said the heavy rainfall was unusual.
Extreme weather has become increasingly common this summer in China. Recent floods in Sichuan Province killed hundreds of people and forced thousands to flee. Officials from the environmental organization Greenpeace International warn that China’s rapid urbanization will increase the frequency of climate disasters.
Speaking to Chinese media, Liu Junyan of Greenpeace International said, “Due to the highly concentrated population, infrastructure and economic activity, exposure and vulnerability to climate hazards is higher in urban areas.” [uh/ab]