China | Water and electricity cuts, roads blocked, stunned residents seeing damage: Zhengzhou city is trying to regain control Thursday after floods that killed at least 33 people in this central China city.
The city of 10 million was hit by devastating floods on Tuesday, engulfing even a subway, after three days of torrential rain representing the equivalent of a year of rainfall.
After deadly floods in Germany, climate change has again been marked as the worst weather in the city since weather surveys began 60 years ago.
Some officials refer to the worst floods as “the millennium”.
“These disasters show that extreme weather events and their intensity are on the rise,” the daily Global Times wrote in an editorial on Thursday.
The paper warns that “it is no longer enough to say vaguely ‘once in a thousand years or once in a century’.” “We need to be prepared for catastrophic weather more often.”
submerged in the surface
Zhengzhou (pronounced: “Djangue-djo”), located 700 kilometers south of Beijing, is still under water in some neighborhoods, while maintenance agents, firefighters and repairmen are busy clearing the damage.
In light rain, residents left their homes to refuel or go to work. At the exit of a tunnel in the middle of the city, many were stunned by the accumulation of dozens of vehicles carried by the waves.
Neighboring businesses have also suffered.
“The water rose there by about 80 centimeters,” Chen, owner of a popular restaurant on Yong’an Street, told AFP.
“My loss?” “It’s okay, compared to what happened in the tunnel,” he explains, while it is not known if the motorists are still in the cars stuck inside.
Some vehicles have only the roof protruding from the muddy water.
The beginning of the controversy
On Thursday, closed-door public television showed an army of rescuers removing a railway track covered in mud and rubble. The bulldozers were also in the works.
Facing the scale of the disaster, President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for mobilization after these “extremely dangerous” floods.
The country is still in shock from images of the metro train from Line 5, which was swept into a sudden flood on Tuesday, as passengers kept their heads above the water on their seats, as the air became thinner.
The metro operator said, Thursday, that about 500 passengers found themselves trapped between two stations, denouncing the killing of 12 passengers.
Many in China doubted that the authorities were not anticipating the disaster.
“How is it? […] That the metro wasn’t closed? A user pulled a discussion on the social network Weibo that crossed 92 million views Thursday.
Facing pressure, the Department of Transportation has called on metro operators to “improve contingency plans” in case of bad weather.
The government has issued emergency aid worth 100 million yuan (13 million euros) to the densely populated Henan Province, of which Zhengzhou is the capital.
The latest report for the entire province showed 33 dead, eight missing, while 376,000 people were evacuated.
“I’m trying to go home”
Because of the storm, many Zhengzhou residents parked their cars on pedestrian bridges and road intersections, to escape the rising waters.
The National Weather Service announced more rain ahead of a lull on Friday. But in the north, as far as Hebei Province surrounds Beijing, certain sectors in turn have been put on high alert.
In Zhengzhou, a large number of hotels no longer welcome customers due to lack of electricity or clean water supply, such as the Hampton Hotel.
“The storm flooded our electrical systems. We are using a generator for power, but only for reception on the ground floor,” explains the receptionist.
While public transportation is off, many people from the rest of the country want to leave the city.
“I’m trying to get back to Shanghai,” says Zhang Peng, who is trying to book a train via a mobile app on his phone. “Although the weather has improved, nothing is available yet. But it appears to be unlocked for aircraft,” he hopes.