Beijing — At least 16 people have died after torrential rains caused landslides and flooded a city in central China, with shocking images showing passengers struggling against chest-high water inside a train carriage. As river embankments were breached in record downpours across Henan province, President Xi Jinping described the situation as “extremely severe” with flood control measures entering a “critical stage”, state media reported Wednesday.
Around 200,000 city residents were evacuated, local government officials said, as soldiers led rescue efforts in Zhengzhou — a city of over 10 million people — where days of rain have inundated the streets and subway.
The rainfall in the region was the heaviest since record-keeping began 60 years ago, with Zhengzhou seeing the equivalent of a year’s average rainfall in just three days.
Rainstorms submerged Zhengzhou’s metro, killing 12 people and injuring five, while city officials said hundreds were rescued from the subway.
Nerve-shredding images shared on social media showed shocked passengers contending with the fast-rising waters inside a train carriage. Rescuers cut open the roof of the coach to pull people to safety, local media reported.
Others showed dramatic rescues of pedestrians in Zhengzhou from torrents gushing through the streets.
At least four were killed in the nearby Gongyi city where houses and walls have collapsed, the official Xinhua news agency said, adding that rainfall had caused multiple landslides.
Relatives outside Zhengzhou made anxious pleas on China’s Weibo for information as communications to the city went down.
“Is the second floor in danger? My parents live there, but I can’t get through to them on the phone,” one user wrote.
“I don’t know more about their situation. I’m in Tianjin and my parents are in Zhengzhou,” she said, giving her surname only as Hou when contacted by AFP. “I’m very anxious.”
Authorities have issued the highest warning level for Henan province as floods continue to hammer the region.