Heavy rain ravaged central China’s Henan province on Tuesday, bursting the banks of major rivers, flooding the streets of a dozen cities and trapping subway passengers up to their waists in the floodwaters.
Henan, a densely populated province twice the size of Austria, has been plagued by storms since the weekend in an unusually active rainy season.
No deaths or casualties have been reported, but the daily lives of the province’s 94 million residents have been turned upside down due to transport closures.
In Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan on the banks of the Yellow River, more than 200 millimeters of rain fell in one hour on Tuesday, forcing the city to suspend all metro services.
Dramatic videos shared on social media showed waist-deep commuters in murky water on a subway train and a subway station turning into a large, swirling pool.
Henan is an important logistics hub, but train services were suspended, many highways were closed and flights were delayed or cancelled.
In Ruzhou, a city southwest of Zhengzhou, streets have turned into streams that have swept away cars and other vehicles, images posted on social media show.
The State Grid Zhengzhou Power Supply Co. said a substation in the center had to close because of the rain.
Thousands of residents displaced
More than 10,000 residents of Henan province were transferred to shelters, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.
Some people spent the night at their workplace or checked into hotels.
Wang Guirong, a 56-year-old restaurant manager, said she planned to sleep on the sofa in her restaurant after being told there was no power in her area.
“I’ve lived in Zhengzhou all my life and I’ve never seen such a heavy rainstorm as today,” Wang said.
A rising Yi River also threatened to hit Longmen Grottoes, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that features millennium-old Buddhist statues etched into limestone cliffs near the city of Luoyang.
Like the Longmen Caves, the Shaolin Temple in the city of Dengfeng, famous in the West for its martial arts, is temporarily closed.
Also in Dengfeng, an aluminum alloy factory exploded on Tuesday when water from a river flooded into the factory.
Almost 50cm of rain in Lushan
At least 31 large and medium-sized reservoirs in the province have exceeded their alert level.
From Saturday to Tuesday, 3,535 weather stations in Henan saw more than 50 millimeters of rain fall, with 1,614 levels above 100 millimeters and 151 above 250 millimeters.
The highest was in the city of Lushan, where 498 millimeters of rain fell, according to the provincial weather bureau.
The forecast is that the rain will stop before Thursday.
China regularly experiences flooding during the summer months, but the growth of cities and the conversion of farmland into subdivisions have increased the costs of such events.