The Chinese city of Zhengzhou battled the heaviest rain in a millennia and devastating floods that killed at least 25 people and displaced 1.24 million residents. Extreme rainfall and floods in China had paralysed the greater Henan province including trapping passengers in a flooded subway train.
What is Happening?
- Heavy rains started late last week in the Henan province in China. But on Tuesday, the city of Zhengzhou experienced in what experts believe to be the heaviest rain in 1,000 years where it recorded 21.75 inches of rainfall within a 24-hour period, which is equivalent to 87% of the city’s average annual rainfall, and more than 7.8 inches of rainfall was recorded in a single hour. In comparison to the unprecedented floods experienced in Germany and Belgium last week, Germany recorded 154mm of rain within 24 hours.
- At least 25 people in Henan province were killed and 1.24 million people were displaced. Many other residents in Zhengzhou have been cut off from electricity, water and supplies.
- Subway stations were severely flooded where at least 12 people lost their lives when they were trapped inside subway cars by rapidly rising waters. Many passengers struggled to breathe and were neck deep in water as they waited for help. The city’s subway system, which consists of seven lines and 153 stations, have ceased all operations following the fatal incident. Flights in the city have also been grounded.
- Days of extreme heavy rains resulted in neighbouring cities like Gongyi to suffer fatalities as well with more than 20,000 people evacuated. Chinese military, police and firefighters are still conducting extensive search and rescue operations across the region.
- Government officials and scientists expect more problems to arise in the following days and possibly weeks as dozens of dams and reservoirs have reportedly breached warning levels.
- Despite the region being prone to flooding during summer seasons, this year’s historic and record breaking rainfall in China has been particularly alarming and many fear whether the country has the capacity to deal with future and very likely, more extreme climate events.
What Caused the Floods in China?
- Scientists have linked the warming atmosphere caused by climate change to the frequency and intensity of record-breaking rainfall.
- The extreme rainfall led to rapid rises in a number of major river systems in the Yellow River basin, many of which run through the Henan province, causing rapid flooding.
- Some experts have also attribute the widespread dam construction has exacerbated existing problems caused by climate change in China’s flood zone.
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Featured image by: Flickr