At least 12 killed in central China flooding after being trapped in subways, cars

Subway passengers in central China were left clinging to ceiling handles inside flooded cars on Tuesday, trapped up to their necks in rising water, as record breaking rains devastated parts of Henan province.

At least 12 people have been confirmed dead in Zhengzhou, the provincial capital, where more than 20 centimeters of rain fell in one hour on Tuesday, according to the meteorological observatory.

More than 100,000 people have so far been evacuated from Zhengzhou, a city of 12.6 million on the banks of the Yellow River, with thousands of emergency personnel deployed to assist in the effort, according to state media.

All of the bodies recovered were taken from the city's subway system, according to provincial authorities.

The heavy rains also caused power outages across the city. One hospital, housing nearly 10,000 patients, faced a complete blackout.

In the nearby city of Gongyi, at least four were confirmed dead and more than 20,000 people have been forced to leave their homes, state media reported Wednesday.

Chinese President Xi Jinping addressed the flooding on Wednesday morning, calling the flood control situation "very severe" and ordering authorities to "prioritize the safety of people's lives and properties," news agency Xinhua reported.


Though the rains have since eased, problems are likely to persist, as dozens of dams and reservoirs have breached warning levels.

There were conflicting reports about the status of the Guojiazui dam near Zhengzhou, with CGTN initially announcing that it had collapsed before later appearing to walk back its reporting.

Xinhua reported on Wednesday afternoon that "a large section of the downstream slope of the dam has crumbled, but the dam itself has not collapsed."

In the city of Luoyang west of Zhengzhou, Chinese military personnel raced to blast a dam and divert the floods on Tuesday night at the request of county authorities. Heavy rains had caused a 20-meter breach in the dam, which authorities said "may collapse at any time," according to a statement from the Central Theater Command of the People's Liberation Army.

Though flooding during the summer months is an annual occurrence in parts of China, recent record breaking rains have alarmed scientists and officials, raising questions as to whether the country is prepared to deal with more extreme and unpredictable weather.