Update: Death toll reaches 25 from severe flooding in Central China’s Henan
Published: Jul 21, 2021 12:29 PM Updated: Jul 21, 2021 06:35 PM
Staff members drain water at a waterlogged area in Wuzhi County, central China's Henan Province, July 20, 2021. Photo:Xinhua

Staff members drain water at a waterlogged area in Wuzhi County, central China's Henan Province on Tuesday, July 20, 2021. Photo:Xinhua

The death toll has climbed to 25, with 7 missing from severe flooding in Zhengzhou, Central China's Henan Province on Wednesday. A total of 1.24 million were affected in the province that has been ravaged by torrential rains and 160,000 were evacuated as rescue continued to pour into the province with the People's Liberation Army mobilized.  

12 died and 5 were injured in a flooded subway line in Zhengzhou, the capital of the province, which has been the hardest-hit in the province. 

Gongyi county, west to downtown Zhengzhou, saw torrential rain, floods, inundation, landslides that destroyed buildings and roads since Tuesday. At least six in the county have died as of Wednesday afternoon, while the restoration of electricity and communication cables remains difficult. 

When Global Times reporters arrived on Wednesday, paralyzed Zhenzhou East Railway Station, which sees in and off of more than 600 trains a day, was flooded with water and mud. Many stranded passengers were sent to safe places in the city and the station is distributing food and water to those who are still there.

A downtown campus of a major hospital First Affiliated Hospital of Zhengzhou University is still out of power except its ICU department. Some 600 critically ill patients are being transferred to other hospitals as the floodwater, which devoured the first floor on Tuesday evening, has receded. 

Cars are piled together on streets and most business remain closed. 

Electricity in many parts has not been restored and as many signal stations were destroyed, communications were difficult and unstable. In the first three hours of Global Times reporters' stay, the communications were unimpeded for only a few minutes. 

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday demanded that authorities at all levels must give top priority to ensuring people's safety and property, and carefully and strictly implement the flood prevention and disaster relief measures.

He ordered authorities at all levels to promptly organize flood prevention and disaster relief forces, properly accommodate those affected, strictly prevent secondary disasters, and minimize casualties and property losses.

The People's Liberation Army and the People's Armed Police Force must actively assist local authorities in emergency rescue and relief work, said Xi.

As of 7 am on Wednesday, 36,000 people in Zhengzhou were seriously affected by the disaster, and nearly 200,000 people were relocated, according to Zhengzhou municipal government.

Heavy rainfall caused serious water accumulation at the Wulongkou parking lot and its surrounding areas on subway line 5. The water rushed out of the retaining wall of the entrance line and entered the main line section, causing subway line 5 to be suspended at the Beach Temple Street station and Shakou Road station, the Zhengzhou government said. 

"The rain is too heavy, and the water on the road outside the station rises to lower leg. I was stocked with many other passengers at the station exit for about an hour until I booked a hotel room nearby," a high school teacher surnamed Wang who was trapped in the subway station of Wuyi Park on Line 5 at around 4 pm on Tuesday told the Global Times. 

Wang said that she felt fortunate that she was not strapped inside the subway, but after arriving at the hotel, she found that the hotel has no electricity and water, and did not know when it would recover.

Mountainous Mihe township west to Zhengzhou was flooded earlier on Tuesday causing many residents to be relocated to the nearby government buildings. Another round of search for the missing started Wednesday morning. Electricity and communications went off at Tuesday 1:30 pm and were not restored as of Wednesday morning.

Amid heavy rainfall, the First Affiliated Hospital of Zhengzhou University reported a blackout on Tuesday night, forcing medical staff to use airbags one-on-one to provide artificial oxygen to patients in need. About 600 critically ill patients were waiting to be transferred, according to media reports.

A netizen who claimed to be a child of a doctor from the intensive care unit of the respiratory department of the hospital said that medical staff were assigned to each patient's bed to pinch a balloon to maintain normal breathing of patients. "The ventilator can't work normally. I am very worried about how long my dad's severe respiratory patients can last."

From Sunday to Wednesday, Zhengzhou was experiencing rare heavy rainfall, with the average cumulative precipitation reaching 445 millimeters, the Zhengzhou government said. 

The rainfall in Zhengzhou between 4 pm and 5 pm on Tuesday reached 201.9 millimeters, exceeding the extreme hourly rainfall recorded in China, the Central Meteorological Observatory said.

The daily rainfall recorded at 10 national meteorological observatories in Henan Province broke the historic meteorological records. From Tuesday and Wednesday morning, precipitation in central and northernern Henan was between 250 and 350 millimeters and the precipitation in Zhengzhou was 500-657 millimeters, which is almost the annual precipitation.

This rainfall in Zhengzhou is regarded as the heaviest in 60 years. Meteorologists say the typhoon near South China and the topography of the region could be the major reasons for the unusual torrential rainfall.

Meteorologists said that typhoon "Yanhua," which is approaching East China's Fujian Province, exerted "remote control" over Henan. Water vapor is pushed from the sea to Henan following the path of the typhoon as well as air currents. 

When the airflow hits the mountains in Henan, it converges and shoots upwardwhich causes rainfall to be concentrated in this region, they said.