Thursday, January 27

Floods in China: Army destroys dam to release water as death toll rises | porcelain

China’s military has blown up a dam to release water that threatens one of its most densely populated provinces, as the death toll from widespread flooding rose to at least 25 and was expected to rise further.

The dam operation was carried out late Tuesday night near Luoyang city, just as severe flooding overwhelmed Zhengzhou, capital of Henan province, trapping residents in the subway system and leaving them stranded in schools, apartments and offices.

Seven other people were reported missing, provincial officials said at a news conference Wednesday night.

The death toll was expected to rise Thursday as rescue work continues in the devastated region where 640mm (25 inches) of rain fell in the region in just three days.

Chinese media said the rain was unprecedented in the past “1,000 years.” Some are concerned that, given the scale of the damage, post-disaster reconstruction will be particularly challenging for one of China’s most populous provinces. 12 million people live in Zhengzhou alone and initial estimates say 1.2 million have been directly affected by the floods.

A video posted to Twitter by news site The Paper showed subway passengers standing in chest-deep, muddy brown water as torrents roared in the outer tunnel.

Residents walk through the floods in Zhengzhou.
Residents walk through the floods in Zhengzhou. Photography: Stringer ./Reuters

Transportation and work have been disrupted across the province, and rain has turned the streets into fast-flowing rivers, washing away cars and reaching people’s homes.

At least 10 trains carrying about 10,000 passengers were stopped, including three for more than 40 hours, according to Caixin, a business news magazine. Sections of 26 roads were closed due to the rain, the Transport Ministry said on its social media account.

A blackout turned off fans at Zhengzhou University’s first affiliated hospital, forcing staff to use hand-pumped airbags to help patients breathe, according to the city’s Communist Party committee. He said that more than 600 patients were being transferred to other hospitals.

A woman aboard a subway in a flooded tunnel told her husband that the water was nearly up to his neck and passengers were having trouble breathing, the Henan Business Daily newspaper reported.

Vehicles flooded by floods in Zhengzhou.
Vehicles flooded by floods in Zhengzhou. Photograph: VCG / Visual China Group / Getty Images

She said that staff at a subway station told her husband that all the passengers had been evacuated, but acknowledged that it was not after he initiated a video chat with his wife on his mobile phone showing that she was still away. board.

The precise times and locations of the deaths and disappearances were not immediately clear, although the province said more than 100,000 people were evacuated to safety.

Henan Province, which is located between Beijing and Shanghai in central China, has many cultural sites and is an important base for industry and agriculture. It is crossed by multiple waterways, many of them linked to the Yellow River, which has a long history of flooding during periods of heavy rainfall.

State media showed waist-high waters Wednesday, with rain still falling. North of Zhengzhou, the famous Shaolin Temple, known for its mastery of the martial arts of its Buddhist monks, was also severely affected.

China routinely experiences floods during the summer, but the growth of cities and the conversion of agricultural land into subdivisions has worsened the impact of such events.
UN Secretary General António Guterres sent a letter to Chinese President Xi Jinping “to convey his deepest condolences on the tragic loss of life and devastation,” a UN spokesman said on Wednesday.

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