Friday, September 24

Historic rains and devastating floods in China

The rains that hit Zhengzhou on Tuesday July 20 are the heaviest ever. In twenty-four hours, the capital of Henan received 552 mm of precipitation, or 86% of the annual average, including more than 200 mm in just one hour. In the city, located south of the tumultuous Yellow River, water has invaded the streets, houses and businesses. The metro was submerged, trapping hundreds of riders, at least 12 of whom drowned.

By Wednesday, the rain had stopped falling, and water had drained through most neighborhoods, giving way to a devastated cityscape: streets covered in mud, hundreds of piled up cars, and the tunnels and underground spaces that remain submerged. At a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, local authorities reported 25 dead, seven missing and 1,240,737 people affected. The toll is expected to increase in the coming days.

On Wednesday morning, Chinese President Xi Jinping saw the scale of the disaster: “Dams have collapsed, causing serious injuries, deaths and damage. The situation on the flood front is extremely serious ”, he said, according to national television. On Tuesday, the footage filmed in Zhengzhou by locals was particularly impressive.

Read also: In 2020, China was facing exceptional floods

Streets have been turned into torrents, sweeping away hundreds of vehicles, roads have collapsed. Some videos show human chains organized to pull passers-by caught in the waves; other images, people carried away. The countryside is also very affected. On a video posted online, we see a resident, a refugee on the roof of her house, who calls for help: ” Help ! who can come and help me? “she sobs, as her portal barely protrudes above the surface of the water.

“Kindergartens were open”

In the Zhengzhou metro, hundreds of riders were trapped. After the oars stopped in the middle of the track, they saw the water gradually rise. If some were able to get out of the cars and film themselves while they were evacuating the premises by walking on narrow sidewalks, others could not get out. Stuck inside, they watched helplessly as the waters gradually rose. A woman exclaims: “My laptop is running out of battery soon, this is my last video, I might die. “ The water rose to the shoulders of the users, and some passed out, apparently from lack of oxygen, according to testimonies. The emergency services opened the roof of the trains to evacuate the passengers. At least 17 of them died, and dozens were injured.

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www.lemonde.fr

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