RECORD RAINFALL IN Henan province has caused extensive flooding and left at least 12 people dead.
The twelve who died were trapped by rising waters in the metro system in Zhengzhou, the provincial capital which lies on the southern bank of the Yellow River. More than 500 others were rescued from flooded trains and platforms underground.
The city experienced two-thirds of its annual rainfall in 24 hours spanning Monday and Tuesday. The silt-rich Yellow River often floods during the rainy season from July to October.
Some 100,000 residents have also been evacuated from the city, known for being a centre for iPhone assembly at a Foxconn plant, though the company says that the flooding has not affected operations.
More than a dozen cities in the province have been deluged. Property damage is extensive. Henan accounts for a quarter of the country’s annual wheat harvest.
Concern is mounting that a breached dam in Luoyang city could collapse. Several reservoirs whose water levels are above safety levels also pose a risk of further disasters, as do landslides.
Forty-five years ago 125,000 people lost their lives in flooding in Henan, many in incidents that occurred after the initial flooding.
Thousands of rescuers including soldiers are being deployed in a huge rescue effort. State media is actively countering social media grumbling about the lack of warnings of flood risk ahead of the heavy rains.
Local officials have been told to act pre-emptively where they see danger and not wait for instructions from central authorities. This would suggest that lessons have been learned from the slow initial response to the Covid-19 outbreak in Wuhan, where municipal officials were accused on not acting swiftly enough to contain the outbreak.
The flooding in Henan is the latest example of extreme weather around the world.