Flooding in central China turns streets to rivers

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Beijing: At least 12 people have died in severe flooding in a Chinese provincial capital that trapped people in subways and schools, washed away vehicles and stranded people in their workplaces overnight.

The already drenched city of Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan province, was hit by 20 centimetres (8 inches) of rain from 4 to 5 pm on Tuesday, the official Xinhua News Agency said, citing the Henan weather agency.

The torrent of rain turned streets into rapidly flowing rivers and inundated subways stations and cars. Videos posted online showed entire neighbourhoods covered in waist-deep water and vehicles floating in the muddy mire.

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To the north of Zhengzhou, the famed Shaolin Temple known for its Buddhist monks’ mastery of martial arts was badly hit. Henan province is home to many cultural sites and a major base for industry and agriculture.

Xinhua said 12 people had died and 1,00,000 people had been moved to safer places.

Stranded people were spending the night at their workplaces or checked into hotels.

Wang Guirong, a 56-year-old restaurant manager, said she planned to sleep on the couch in her restaurant after being told there was no power in her neighbourhood. The State Grid Zhengzhou Power Supply Co. said a downtown substation was forced to shut down because of the rain.

“I have lived in Zhengzhou all my life and have never seen such a heavy rainstorm as today,” Wang said.

China experiences regular flooding during the summer, but the growth of cities and conversion of farmland into subdivisions has raised the impact of such events.