China floods: Henan braces for another round of rains as number affected reaches 3 million

Eduardo Baptista, South China Morning Post

Posted at Jul 22 2021 09:30 PM

Local authorities in the central Chinese city of Zhengzhou are working around the clock to keep the city’s electricity and water supplies going as Henan braced for another round of heavy rain.

Zhengzhou, the provincial capital, has been hit by several days of heavy rain, causing floods of an intensity not seen in decades. The official death toll from the floods rose to 33 on Thursday and the Henan authorities said more than 3 million people had been affected.

Three thousand military personnel are working in 10 different danger zones around the city, state news agency Xinhua reported. On Wednesday it published footage showing the soldiers laying sandbags over a breach in a dam on the Jialu river. Zhengzhou’s flood control headquarters said on Thursday that power and water supplies had been restored to the western and central parts of Zhengzhou city and the aim was to complete repair works in the entire city by the end of the day.

Flood control also said it hoped to pump the west and centre of the city dry and remove cars that had been damaged or washed away before Thursday evening.

One road tunnel in the the centre of Zhengzhou that had been flooded for two days was drained on Thursday, leaving behind dozens of cars piled over each other. Traffic resumed in the afternoon after the cars were removed.

But as Zhengzhou starts cleaning up, other areas of Henan are bracing themselves for further flooding.

On Thursday, Henan’s meteorological department sent out a red alert, warning that large cities like Anyang, Hebi, Xinxiang, and Jiaozuo, would see accumulated precipitation cross the 100mm (3.9 inches) threshold.

While this is less than half the 209mm of rain Zhengzhou recorded in one hour on Wednesday, on-the-ground reports from some of these areas outside the capital suggest the forecast is a conservative one.

Late last night, one area of Xinxiang recorded 267.4mm of heavy rain in two hours. This was more than the highest figure recorded in Zhengzhou the previous day.

Anyang has already been hit by severe flooding and the city’s paramilitary police have been deployed to tackle the damage, according to the news portal Thepaper.cn.
Anyang, Xinxiang, Kaifeng, and Zhoukou have a combined population of over 20 million, or a fifth of Henan’s total.

There are signs the impact of the floods has widened as of Thursday, with 3 million people in 877 counties of Henan now reported to have been affected, Xinhua reported.

On Wednesday, Henan’s flood control authorities said 1.24 million people in 560 counties had been displaced by the floods.

The death toll rose from 25 to 33 on Thursday, while one more person was found to be missing, bringing the total to eight, according to Xinhua.

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