People have been trapped in cars and subway cars after heavy rains caused extensive damage in central China.
More than 200mm of rain fell in Zhengzhou City, Henan Province, in a single hour on Tuesday. In recent European floods, the most affected areas of Germany saw 182 mm over three days.
So far, there have been no confirmed deaths or casualties among the state’s 94 million residents – although 10,000 have reportedly been evacuated.
Sky News Asia correspondent Tom Cheshire tweeted: “Very distressing scenes in Zhengzhou right now with severe flooding. People trapped in the subway – some rescued but other videos appear to show corpses. “
Photos and videos from the area showed torrents of water pouring through the streets, with rescuers working to evacuate those who had become trapped.
Social media posts have shown commuters trapped waist-deep in floodwater in a subway train.
Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan, has a population of over 10 million and is located on the bank of the Yellow River – one of the Chinaof the largest rivers.
Electricity was cut off in parts of the city, and Wang Guirong, a 56-year-old restaurant manager, said she planned to sleep on the sofa in her restaurant.
She said, “I have lived in Zhengzhou all my life and have never seen such a severe rainstorm as it is today.
Storms in the region have been occurring since the weekend, in the midst of an unusually wet rainy season.
Trains have been suspended, while highways are closed and flights delayed or suspended.
Other towns in Henan – including Ruzhou – were ravaged by the waters.
Dengfeng Shaolin Temple, famous for its martial arts, had to close due to bad weather.
An aluminum plant in the city exploded after water flooded the facility.
And the Longmen Caves – a UNESCO World Heritage Site with Buddhas carved in limestone dating back to AD 500 – are also threatened by flooding.
More than 30 reservoirs in Henan have exceeded their alert levels.
From Saturday to Tuesday, 3,535 weather stations in Henan recorded rainfall greater than 50mm, of which 1,614 had levels greater than 100mm and 151 greater than 250mm.
Flooding is not uncommon in China during the rainy season, but the expansion of cities and the conversion of farmland into housing have put more people at risk.
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Xinhua, the state-controlled news agency, reports that the situation has been moved from level four to level three flood emergency.
China has four levels of flooding, the most severe being level one.
Forecasters predict the showers will end by Thursday.