China floods: thousands trapped without fresh water as rain moves north


The Guardian 23 July, 2021 - 11:09pm 55 views

Why is China flooding?

Causes of floods Hu Xiao from the China Meteorological Administration (CMA) indicated that the rains were caused by increased vapors arising from the Indian and Pacific oceans. Some experts claim climate change is partly to blame and such events may become more frequent in the future. wikipedia.org2020 China floods

Record-breaking rainstorms – which dumped a year’s worth of rain on and around the capital of Henan province, Zhengzhou, earlier this week – have since moved north, affecting outer cities and regional areas, trapping people without electricity or fresh water, including at hospitals.

On Friday afternoon state media reported the death toll had risen from 33 to 51, citing local authorities, and a financial toll of of more than 65 billion yuan (£7.3bn). More than a million people had been relocated, half of them having lost their homes.

Local reports suggested the city of Xinxiang, home to 5.8 million people, had been hardest hit, with more than 260mm falling in a two-hour window. State media reported the Wei river had burst its banks and flooded villages near Hebi. Local authorities pushed at least half a dozen trucks into the breach in an attempt to block it, without success.

“Presently, nearly 9,000 people have been safely transferred,” state broadcaster CCTV said, adding authorities were evacuating “the remaining 19,000 people.”

On Friday afternoon Henan authorities sought to emphasise a strong emergency response and the return of utilities to some neighbourhoods. They kept the death toll at 33, apparently contradicting state media, saying assessment was ongoing.

But the true scale of the disaster is not yet clear, and the press conference prompted some scepticism from residents online. Many areas of Henan remained cut off, without power, fresh water or mobile phone signal. A massive recovery effort had begun in areas where the rain has passed, including the capital Zhengzhou, where at least 12 people died when the subway system flooded.

Focus is on the entrance to a major cross-city tunnel in the city, which was completely submerged in up to 13 metres of water. More than 100 trapped cars were counted after the water was drained on Friday morning. Authorities confirmed just two bodies recovered, but a heavy police presence and reports from media on the ground suggested the toll was unlikely to stay so low.

As the waters have receded from the 4km tunnel running along Zhengzhou City’s JingGuang Ave. #京广路隧道—people ⬆️ wonder how many ppl were likely trapped & killed in that underground traffic tunnel. #ChinaFloods #郑州大雨

Local media reported there were still people missing, with The Paper identifying at least 25 individuals, the youngest just 12 years old. One woman named Ms Ma said she had lost contact with her 14-year-old son and his two friends who had been playing near the tunnel.

On Chinese social media some journalists also noted there was little information yet from affected rural areas.

On Friday 29 of the region’s 30 reservoirs had overflowed, local authorities said, and 65 others were at full capacity. At least two major reservoirs near Zhengzhou were also damaged or at risk of collapse earlier this week, but authorities have refuted suggestions the dams have played a role in subverting the regular water flow.

China’s leader, president Xi Jinping, said there had been a “significant loss of life and damage to property”. Xi has not yet visited the affected areas. On Friday morning state media reported Xi had instead made a surprise visit to Tibet, the first such visit to the politically sensitive area by a Chinese leader in more than three decades.

“Around 40 or 50-something calls flooded in, from the local and other provinces from Jiangsu and Jiangxi. They asked for our details and help to contact rescue teams. I saw some lights through my window around 1130pm, it was the rescue team. That was so unreal to hear their voice.”

As Henan’s disaster continues, eyes are already moving to China’s east coast and an approaching typhoon. Typhoon In-fa has brought heavy rain to northern Taiwan and Japan’s southern islands, and is predicted to make landfall near Shanghai over the weekend. In-fa was credited with partly driving Henan’s rainstorm even while hundreds of kilometres to the east of Taiwan.

During Saturday and Sunday’s high tides “coastal areas should guard against the combined impact of wind, rain and tides,” the National Meteorological Center said, warning the public to prepare for a major weather event.

Read full article at The Guardian

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At least 25 people have died in China's central province of Henan, a dozen of them in a subway line in its capital Zhengzhou, and more rains are forecast for the region.

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