Commuters die as rain floods train tunnel in China

Twelve people have died after record-breaking rainfall flooded underground railway tunnels in China, leaving passengers trapped in rising waters.

Video shared on social media shows evening commuters just managing to keep their heads above water. Water is seen rushing onto platforms.

More than 500 people were eventually rescued from the tunnels in Henan province, officials said.

Days of rain have caused widespread damage and led to 200,000 evacuations.

Above ground, roads have been turned into rivers, with cars and debris swept along in fast moving currents. A number of pedestrians have had to be rescued.

In total, 25 people have died in Henan province and more than a dozen cities are affected. President Xi Jinping said on Wednesday that there had been “significant loss of life and damage to property”.

Several dams and reservoirs have breached warning levels, and soldiers have been mobilised to divert rivers which have burst their banks. Flights and trains in many parts of Henan have also been suspended.

This photo taken on July 20, 2021 shows people wading through flood waters along a street following heavy rains in Zhengzhou
GETTY IMAGES

In the provincial capital Zhengzhou, the equivalent of a year’s average rainfall has fallen in just three days.

On Tuesday, some of the city’s flood defences were overwhelmed and water began flowing down into the railway tunnels.

Survivors have described how water leaked through the doors, rising slowly from “our ankles to our knees to our necks”. “All of us who could, stood on the subway seats,” one woman wrote on Chinese social network site Weibo.

Children were lifted out of the water by their parents, while others threw off anything which might hold them down.

After about half an hour, one passenger said it became “hard to breathe”.

An order to shut down the line came at 18:10 local time (10:10 GMT) so the evacuation could begin, Zhengzhou government officials said in a statement. Five people are being treated for injuries, with 12 having died.

Elsewhere in the central Chinese city, children had to be rescued from a flooded nursery school.

State media aired footage of them being floated out in plastic tubs by rescuers.

The First Affiliated Hospital of Zhengzhou Hospital also briefly lost power on Tuesday night, though this has now been restored, said a statement on Weibo by the Zhengzhou Municipal Party Committee.

It added that 600 critically ill patients had been transferred to another location.

Another resident, identified as Mr Liu, 27, told BBC Chinese he had had “no water, no electricity, and no internet”.

“Never in my life had I seen so much rain,” Mr Liu added. “There was one hour where the rain was just pouring down on us from the heavens, and everything went completely white.”

But the rising waters were not just confined to Zhengzhou.

A 20-metre (65ft) breach has emerged in the dam in Luoyang city after it was damaged by storms, officials said. Soldiers have been deployed to the area and a statement from the army warned it could “collapse at any time”.

Another user said that residents in Sishui town were stuck on rooftops. “We don’t know how to swim… the whole village is about to be washed away,” the person wrote.

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