A dozen people died Wednesday after becoming trapped in a flooded subway in China’s Zhengzhou — which was engulfed in what experts say was the heaviest rainfall in 1,000 years.
Gruesome video captured terrified commuters in the rushing water of a train as a subway station in the city in central Henan was submerged by the churning flood. More than 500 people were rescued.
“The water reached my chest,” a straphanger wrote on social media. “I was really scared, but the most terrifying thing was not the water, but the diminishing air supply in the carriage.”
President Xi Jinping called the flooding situation “extremely serious” and ordered authorities to “give priority to the safety of people’s lives and property,” CNN reported, citing state news agency Xinhua.
Footage broadcast by the Chinese outlet shows passengers trapped in the flooded subway, tightly packed as the water climbs higher as dark floodwaters flow along the tracks.
Many of the inmates posted desperate calls for help on social media.
‘The water in the carriage has reached chest height! I can’t talk anymore, please help!” wrote one woman, who went by the name Xiaopei, reported CNN.
“If there is no rescue in 20 minutes, several hundred of us will lose our lives in the Zhengzhou subway,” she added later. Authorities later confirmed that she had been rescued.
A woman was captured in a video posted by the BBC who was rescued after being dragged down a street inundated by muddy water and another clip shows children and teachers rescued from a flooded school in Zhengzhou.
Due to the epic deluge, authorities in the city of 12 million, about 400 miles southwest of Beijing, had suspended bus services, said a Zhengzhou resident nicknamed Guo, who spent the night in his office.
“That’s why a lot of people took the subway and the tragedy happened,” Guo told Reuters.
The death toll since the torrential rains started last weekend has risen to at least 16 on Wednesday, with local reports having killed four residents in Gongyi, a town on the banks of the Yellow River such as Zhengzhou.
More rain is forecast in Henan over the next three days and the People’s Liberation Army has deployed more than 3,000 troops and personnel to assist in search and rescue.
According to local meteorologists, rainfall in Zhengzhou for the past three years has been at levels seen only “once in a thousand years.”
Scientists told Reuters that the extreme rainfall in China was almost certainly linked to global warming, as in the case of the major floods that have ravaged Western Europe. “The common thread here is clearly global warming,” Johnny Chan, a professor of atmospheric sciences at the City University of Hong Kong, told the news agency.
“Such extreme weather events are likely to become more frequent in the future. What is needed is for governments (city, state and national) to develop strategies to adapt to such changes,” he added.
With Post wires