Severe rainstorms kill 12 in flooded China subway
Twelve people died after torrential rains flooded a subway in the central Chinese city of Zhengzhou and passengers struggled against chest-high water inside a train carriage.
As dams burst and river embankments were breached in record downpours across Henan province, President Xi Jinping described the situation as "extremely severe" with flood control measures entering a "critical stage", state media reported Wednesday morning.
Around 200,000 city residents were evacuated, local government officials said, with soldiers leading rescue efforts in the city of over 10 million people, where days of rain have inundated the streets and subway.
Rainstorms submerged Zhengzhou's metro, killing 12 people and injuring five, while hundreds were rescued from the subway, city officials said in a Weibo post.
Authorities have issued the highest warning level for Henan province as floods continue to hammer the region.
As the scale of the disaster continued to unspool, the Chinese army warned that a stricken dam around an hour from Zhengzhou city "could collapse at any time" after being severely damaged in torrential storms.
The regional unit of the People's Liberation Army alerted Tuesday that the relentless downpour had caused a 20-meter breach in the Yihetan dam in Luoyang — a city of around seven million people.
The PLA's Central Theater Command said it had sent soldiers to carry out an emergency response including blasting and flood diversion.
Soldiers have been deployed to other rivers nearby to reinforce embankments with sandbags as the floods fanned out across Henan and warnings were issued of other near breaches of dams.
Annual floods during China's rainy season cause chaos and wash away roads, crops and houses. But the threat has worsened over the decades, due in part to widespread construction of dams and levees that have cut connections between the river and adjacent lakes and disrupted floodplains that had helped absorb the summer surge.
Scientists say climate change is also worsening flooding around the world alongside other increasingly extreme weather patterns.