Tuesday 27 July 2021 - 9:21:38 pm

China evacuates tens of thousands as China storms spread north


ZHENGZHOU, 22nd July, 2021 (WAM/ Reuters) -- Tens of thousands of people were being evacuated from flood-hit regions of central China on Thursday as officials raised the death toll from heavy rains that have deluged Henan province for almost a week to 33 people.

More cities were inundated and crops destroyed as the severe weather spread northwards, with the official Xinhua news agency reporting direct economic losses of 1.22 billion yuan ($189 million) so far.

The provincial weather bureau on Thursday raised the storm alert for four cities in the north of Henan – Xinxiang, Anyang, Hebi and Jiaozuo – to red, the highest tier of a four-step colour-coded weather warning system.

The fatalities included 12 people who were killed when the subway in the provincial capital of Zhengzhou, about 650 km (400 miles) southwest of Beijing, was flooded earlier this week. Eight people are listed as missing across the province. In Zhengzhou, where the bad weather reached a peak on Tuesday, the skies had cleared but floodwaters were still at waist height, or higher, with entire streets underwater in many areas.

Rescue teams used rubber rafts to ferry residents to safety, while others waded through the waters carrying belongings above their heads, or waited on partially submerged cars to be picked up.

The provincial weather bureau told state media it had issued a report warning of the coming torrential rains two days in advance.

Since Monday evening, meteorological departments from the provincial down to the county level have sent out 120 million text messages to mobile phone users warning them of the storms, the Henan weather bureau said.

WAM/Rola Alghoul/Binsal AbdulKader