12 die as floodwaters inundate Chinese subway, trapping terrified passengers


(CNN) — Terrified 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 8 inches of rain fell in one hour on Tuesday, according to China’s meteorological observatory.

All of the bodies recovered were taken from the city’s subway system, said provincial authorities.

More than 100,000 people have 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, state media reported.

And in the nearby city of Gongyi, at least four people were reported to have died as floodwaters swept through residential areas, forcing more than 20,000 people to leave their homes.

Chinese President Xi Jinping addressed the flooding Wednesday, describing the situation as “very severe” and ordering authorities to “prioritize the safety of people’s lives and property,” state news agency Xinhua reported.

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 amplified by climate change.

Footage broadcast by Xinhua and shared widely online showed passengers in Zhengzhou trapped inside a flooded subway car, packed tightly together as the water rises. Outside the window, dark floodwater rips past, surging down the subway tracks.

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Many of those trapped posted calls for help on social media, according to screenshots circulated online and statements from the Henan fire department.

“The water inside the carriage has reached chest-levels! I already can’t speak anymore, please help!” wrote one woman, who went by the name Xiaopei.

Minutes later, she posted another comment: “If no rescue comes in 20 minutes, several hundred of us will lose our lives in Zhengzhou subway.” The fire department later confirmed Xiaopei had been rescued.

The city’s subway system, which contains seven lines and 153 stations, suspended all operations after the incident, said provincial authorities.

Other videos showed residents on the street, water up to their hips, working desperately to pull out people trapped in an underground mall using ropes. Others showed people making a human chain, to prevent being swept away by the current as they struggled through rushing water.

The heavy rains also caused power outages across the city. One hospital, housing nearly 10,000 patients, faced a complete blackout Tuesday, with social media photos showing its first floor submerged in water.

On Weibo, China’s heavily censored version of Twitter, a user said the power outage had cut off ventilators in intensive care units at the First Affiliated Hospital of Zhengzhou University. She said her father had to rely on medical workers to manually pump oxygen into his lungs, and pleaded with authorities to restore electricity at the facility.

The People’s Daily later confirmed the blackout at the …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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