Passengers clinging to the handles as the water rises in their oars, others standing in their seats. The scenes of chaos on Tuesday, July 20 in Zhengzhou, a city of 10 million inhabitants, 700 km south of Beijing, sowed concern in China. According to People’s daily, the organ of the ruling Communist Party, the bad weather caused houses to collapse. But it was in the metro that the situation seemed most dramatic.
Heavy flooding hit central China, with footage released by Chinese state TV showing the subway system in the city of Zhengzhou inundated with rushing water. https://t.co/7RsPyaWV5tpic.twitter.com/muF46shhhl
– ABC News (@ABC) July 21, 2021
The death toll now stands at 33 dead and eight missing, according to the CCTV channel, which quotes the local emergency services. Chinese President Xi Jinping called the flooding “Extremely serious”, in this country facing torrential rains for a few days. The metropolis had been placed on red alert since Tuesday. This is the highest alert level for weather in China.
→ READ. Floods in China, the model of mass evacuation
郑州 大 洪水 记录 (六) pic.twitter.com/1CddUVZDLj
– 找寻 失去 的 灵魂 (@ Lonely_soul001) July 20, 2021
The army was called in to reinforce Zhengzhou, capital of the densely populated Henan province, which received almost the equivalent of a year of rain in three days. Since Wednesday, July 21, in the morning, no less than 376,000 inhabitants had to be evacuated, according to CCTV. The town hall said that 36,000 people were “Affected” by flooding.
Collapse of several dams
President Xi Jinping called for mobilization in the face of bad weather. “Dams have collapsed, causing serious injuries, deaths and damage. The situation on the flood front is extremely serious ”, he said, according to comments reported by national television.
Also in Henan, near the former capital of Luoyang, the army announced that a dam threatened to collapse, after a breach of 20 meters in the structure appeared. Soldiers deployed along other waterways in the region to reinforce the banks with sandbags. While more than 200,000 hectares of crops have been swallowed up, the damage is estimated at 1.22 billion yuan (160 million euros), according to the CCTV channel.
A risk of flooding aggravated by climate change
According to Chinese authorities, the rains in the region were the heaviest on record since the weather phenomena were compiled 60 years ago. Floods hit China regularly during the summer, with a death toll that reached several thousand in 1998 in the Yangtze region.
→ EXPLANATION. Are floods linked to climate change?
Both Zhengzhou and Luoyang are close to the Yellow River, whose floods have been frequently fatal in Chinese history. Scientists believe, however, that climate change is increasing the risk of flooding around the world.