World

Floods in China kill at least 25, military blasts dam

China's military has blasted a dam to release floodwaters threatening one of its most heavily populated provinces, as the death toll in widespread flooding rose to at least 25.

Severe flooding overwhelms Zhengzhou, provincial capital of Henan

Catastrophic flooding hits China's central Henan province

3 months ago
0:55
Heavy rain continues to lash China's central Henan province, causing overwhelming floods in the provincial capital of Zhengzhou.(China Daily/Reuters) 0:55

China's military has blasted a dam to release floodwaters threatening one of its most heavily populated provinces, as the death toll in widespread flooding rose to at least 25.

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

Another seven people were reported missing, provincial officials said at a news conference.

PHOTOS | Flooding damage in Zhengzhou:

People look out at cars sitting in floodwaters after heavy rains hit the city of Zhengzhou in China's central Henan province on Wednesday. (AFP/Getty Images)
An aerial image shows flooded streets of Zhengzhou on Wednesday. (cnsphoto/Reuters)
People tried to walk and bike through the flooded streets. (Chinatopix)

Footage posted on Twitter by news site The Paper showed subway passengers standing in chest-high muddy brown water as torrents raged in the tunnel outside.

Transport and working life have been disrupted throughout the province, with torrents of rain turning streets into rapidly flowing rivers, washing away cars and rising into people's homes.

Trains halted, sections of highways closed

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

A blackout shut down ventilators at the First Affiliated Hospital of Zhengzhou University, forcing staff to use hand-pumped airbags to help patients breathe, according to the city's Communist Party committee. It said more than 600 patients were being transferred to other hospitals.

A woman aboard a subway in a flooded tunnel told her husband the water almost reached her neck and passengers had trouble breathing, the Henan Business Daily newspaper reported.

It said staff at a subway station told her husband all passengers had been freed but acknowledged that wasn't so after he started a video chat with his wife on his cellphone showing she still was aboard.

The precise times and locations of the deaths and disappearances weren't immediately clear, although the province said more than 100,000 people have been moved to safety.

People look at cars stacked on each other at an entrance of a tunnel on Wednesday following a heavy rain in Zhengzhou. (Noel Celis/AFP/Getty Images)

Henan province has many cultural sites and is a major base for industry and agriculture. It is crisscrossed by multiple waterways, many of them linked to the Yellow River, which has a long history of bursting its banks during periods of intensive rainfall.

State media on Wednesday showed waters at waist height, with rain still coming down.

To the north of Zhengzhou, the famed Shaolin Temple, known for its Buddhist monks' mastery of martial arts, was also badly hit.

China routinely experiences floods during the summer, but the growth of cities and conversion of farmland into subdivisions has worsened the impact of such events.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres sent a letter to China's President Xi Jinping "to convey his heartfelt condolences on the tragic loss of lives and devastation," UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said Wednesday.

Add some “good” to your morning and evening.

A variety of newsletters you'll love, delivered straight to you.

Sign up now

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?

now