China Evacuates Tens Of Thousands As Historic Rainstorms Spread North

In the wake of the unprecedented rainstorms across central China, tens of thousands of people have been evacuated on Thursday as officials raised the death toll to 33 for the Henan province, according to Reuters

Entire blocks of Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan province, are still submerged after “once in 5,000 years” rainstorms from Sunday to Tuesday devastated the metro area and other surrounding areas. Zhengzhou received eight months of rain within 24 hours earlier this week which triggered flash floods. 

State broadcaster CCTV said Thursday the death toll stands at 33, with eight people missing across Henan. So far, 376,000 people have been evacuated in the province. The economic cost is estimated around Rmb1.2bn ($186m), but that figure is expected to rise. 

Storm alerts on Thursday were declared in four cities just north of Henan – Xinxiang, Anyang, Hebi, and Jiaozuo. 

More than 73,000 people were being evacuated from the city of Anyang, on Henan’s border with Hebei province. The city has received 24 inches of rain since Monday. 

Xinxiang, a small city north of Zhengzhou, recorded 32 inches of rainfall between Tuesday and Thursday, breaking local meteorological records. This caused medium-sized reservoirs to overflow, affecting nearby towns.

As of Wednesday night, 470,000 people and over 55,000 hectares have been affected by torrential historic rains. The government has deployed 76,000 search and rescuers. 

Floodwaters in some areas retreated Thursday, and the devastation is only now be recognized. Vehicles and building structures have been submerged, and the economic damage is likely to rise. 

Three dams also collapsed, two in China’s northwestern region of Inner Mongolia and one near Zhengzhou

Here’s additional coverage on the historic rainstorms: 

Like much of China, Henan province is filled with complex rivers, dams, and reservoirs, many constructed decades ago to manage floodwaters. Officials in the province are increasing safety checks at dams. 

Another batch of rainstorms could be headed to Henan early next week as Typhoon In-Fa hones in on China’s southeastern coastline this weekend.