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© Reuters. On July 22, 2021, people waded through the flood with umbrellas on a bridge in Hebi City, Henan Province, China. REUTERS/Aly Song

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Author: Wu Rui’an

BEIJING (Reuters)-On Thursday, tens of thousands of people were evacuated from flood-affected areas in central China, and officials raised the death toll from heavy rains in Henan Province to 33.

As the severe weather spread northwards, more cities were flooded and crops were destroyed. The official Xinhua News Agency reported that the direct economic loss so far has been RMB 1.22 billion (US$189 million).

The Provincial Meteorological Bureau raised the storm warnings in four cities in northern Henan-Xinxiang, Anyang, Hebi and Jiaozuo-to red on Thursday, the highest level of the four-level color-coded weather warning system.

Earlier this week, the subway in Zhengzhou, the provincial capital, about 650 kilometers (400 miles) southwest of Beijing, was flooded, killing 12 people. Eight people are missing in the province.

According to the official Xinhua News Agency, since Monday, more than 600 mm of rain has flooded Anyang City, which borders Henan and Hebei Province, and more than 73,000 people have been evacuated.

According to Xinhua News Agency, Xinxiang, a small city in northern Zhengzhou, recorded 812 mm of rainfall from Tuesday to Thursday, breaking the local weather record. The city’s 7 medium-sized reservoirs flooded, affecting dozens of nearby villages and towns.

Xinhua News Agency said that as of Wednesday night, the Xinxiang rainstorm had affected more than 470,000 people and more than 55,000 hectares of crops, adding that the local government had deployed more than 76,000 search and rescue teams.

In neighboring Hebei Province, a tornado hit Baoding City, killing two people.

The deadly flooding on the Zhengzhou subway prompted the government to order local authorities to immediately improve urban traffic flood control and emergency response.

Media images show commuters immersed in chest-deep water in a lightless cabin. A subway station has become a large mixing tank.

The Ministry of Transport stated that relevant local authorities should immediately review and rectify various hidden risks in rail transit.

The ministry said in a statement on Thursday: “They must take emergency measures, such as suspending trains, evacuating passengers and closing stations in atypical situations such as excessive storms.”

From Saturday to Tuesday, the rainfall in Zhengzhou is about 617.1 mm (24.3 inches), which is almost equivalent to the city’s annual average rainfall of 640.8 mm (25.2 inches).

The timeliness of weather announcements provided by local meteorological departments has also attracted public attention.

The Provincial Meteorological Bureau told the official media that it had issued a report warning of the upcoming rainstorm two days in advance.

The Henan Provincial Meteorological Bureau said that starting from Monday night, the provincial and county-level meteorological departments have sent 120 million text messages to mobile phone users to warn them of a storm.

($1 = 6.4639 renminbi)

(Revised to correct spelling errors in city names in paragraphs 3 and 9)



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