At least 12 people were killed in the central Chinese city of Zhengzhou after days of heavy rain caused severe flooding.
Rain washed away roads in the capital of Henan province, forcing stranded motorists to drown in waist-deep water, drowning cars and even sending them floating.
The flood also washed away Zhengzhou’s subway system, with riders posting videos on social media as they waited for rescue in waist-high muddy waters. A passenger named Xiaopei posted on Weibo that “the water in the car has reached (his) chest.”
Dozens of reservoirs and dams have reached critical levels, with local officials warning that the Yihetan Dam in the nearby city of Luoyang sustains a 20-metre crack and is on the verge of imminent collapse.
Authorities have moved 100,000 residents to safer areas.
Henan province, home to some 94 million people, has received heavy rains in the past week. Forecasters say Zhengzhou received as much rain in three days as it normally would in a year.
A representative of Xue Lii City, a member of the Standing Committee of the Henan Provincial Party Committee and secretary of the Zhengzhou Municipal Party Committee, said the high level of precipitation was unusual.
Extreme weather events have increased in China this summer, with recent floods in Sichuan province killing hundreds of civilians and forcing thousands to evacuate the region. Officials from environmental group Greenpeace International have warned that China’s rapid urbanization will increase the frequency of climate disasters.
“Due to highly concentrated populations, infrastructure and economic activity, urban areas are at greater risk and vulnerability to climate hazards,” Greenpeace’s Liu Junyan told Chinese media.
This report includes information from the Associated Press, Agence France-Press and Reuters.