People have been left trapped in cars and underground train carriages after heavy rain caused widespread damage in central China.
More than 200mm of rain fell on the city of Zhengzhou, Henan province, in a single hour on Tuesday. In the recent European floods, the worst hit areas of Germany saw 182mm over three days.
So far, there have been no confirmed deaths or casualties among the state’s 94 million people – although 10,000 have reportedly been evacuated.
Sky News Asia correspondent Tom Cheshire tweeted: “Very distressing scenes in Zhengzhou right now where there is severe flooding. People trapped in subway – some rescued but other videos appear to show dead bodies.”
Pictures and video from the region showed torrents of water flowing down streets, with rescuers working to evacuate people who had become trapped.
Posts on social media showed commuters trapped in waist-deep flood water on a subway train.
Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan, has a population of more than 10 million and is located on the bank of the Yellow River – one of China‘s largest waterways.
Power has been cut to some parts of the city, and Wang Guirong, a 56-year-old restaurant manager, said she planned to sleep on the sofa at her restaurant.
She said: “I have lived in Zhengzhou all my life and have never seen such a heavy rainstorm as today.”
The storms in the region have been taking place since the weekend, amid an unusually wet rainy season.
Trains have been suspended, while highways are closed and flights delayed or suspended.
Other cities in Henan – including Ruzhou – have been ravaged by the waters.
The Shaolin Temple in Dengfeng, famous for its martial arts, has had to close due to the inclement weather.
An aluminium plant in the city exploded after water surged into the facility.
And the Longmen Grottoes – a UNESCO World Heritage site featuring buddhas etched into limestone dating back as far as 500 AD – are also threatened by the flooding.
More than 30 reservoirs in Henan have exceeded their warning levels.
From Saturday to Tuesday, 3,535 weather stations in Henan saw rainfall exceeding 50mm, of which 1,614 had levels above 100mm and 151 above 250mm.
Flooding is not uncommon in China during the rainy season, but the expansion of cities and conversion of agricultural land into housing has put more people closer to danger.
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Xinhua, the state-controlled news agency, reports the situation has been moved to a level three flood emergency from level four.
China has four tiers of floods, with the most serious being level one.
Forecasters are predicting the downpours to end by Thursday.
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