Jul 21, 2021
12 die as floodwaters inundate Chinese subway, trapping terrified passengers
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(CNN) — Terrified subway passengers in central China were left clinging to ceiling handles inside flooded cars on Tuesday, trapped up to their necks in rising water, as record-breaking rains devastated parts of Henan province.
At least 12 people have been confirmed dead in Zhengzhou, the provincial capital, where 8 inches of rain fell in one hour on Tuesday, according to China’s meteorological observatory.
All of the bodies recovered were taken from the city’s subway system, said provincial authorities.
More than 100,000 people have been evacuated from Zhengzhou, a city of 12.6 million on the banks of the Yellow River, with thousands of emergency personnel deployed to assist in the effort, state media reported.
And in the nearby city of Gongyi, at least four people were reported to have died as floodwaters swept through residential areas, forcing more than 20,000 people to leave their homes.
Chinese President Xi Jinping addressed the flooding Wednesday, describing the situation as “very severe” and ordering authorities to “prioritize the safety of people’s lives and property,” state news agency Xinhua reported.
Though flooding during the summer months is an annual occurrence in parts of China, recent record-breaking rains have alarmed scientists and officials, raising questions as to whether the country is prepared to deal with more extreme and unpredictable weather amplified by climate change.
Footage broadcast by Xinhua and shared widely online showed passengers in Zhengzhou trapped inside a flooded subway car, packed tightly together as the water rises. Outside the window, dark floodwater rips past, surging down the subway tracks.
Many of those trapped posted calls for help on social media, according to screenshots circulated online and statements from the Henan fire department.
“The water inside the carriage has reached chest-levels! I already can’t speak anymore, please help!” wrote one woman, who went by the name Xiaopei.
Minutes later, she posted another comment: “If no rescue comes in 20 minutes, several hundred of us will lose our lives in Zhengzhou subway.” The fire department later confirmed Xiaopei had been rescued.
The city’s subway system, which contains seven lines and 153 stations, suspended all operations after the incident, said provincial authorities.
Other videos showed residents on the street, water up to their hips, working desperately to pull out people trapped in an underground mall using ropes. Others showed people making a human chain, to prevent being swept away by the current as they struggled through rushing water.
The heavy rains also caused power outages across the city. One hospital, housing nearly 10,000 patients, faced a complete blackout Tuesday, with social media photos showing its first floor submerged in water.
On Weibo, China’s heavily censored version of Twitter, a user said the power outage had cut off ventilators in intensive care units at the First Affiliated Hospital of Zhengzhou University. She said her father had to rely on medical workers to manually pump oxygen into his lungs, and pleaded with authorities to restore electricity at the facility.
The People’s Daily later confirmed the blackout at the hospital, where it said over 600 critically ill patients needed to be transferred. By Wednesday morning, power had been restored at the ICU unit, the newspaper said.
According to state broadcaster CGTN, more than 6,000 firefighters, and nearly 2,000 members of the police and Chinese military, had been deployed across disaster hit areas. Footage from the ground showed soldiers and emergency teams rescuing residents on rafts and clearing toppled power lines.
A report released last week by Greenpeace warned that major metropolitan regions around Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou-Shenzhen were under threat from extreme heat and rainfall. Beijing has seen the fastest rise in average temperature of 0.32 degrees Celsius every 10 years. Guanzhou-Shenzhen has experienced 98 heat waves since 1961, most in the past two decades.
The report also said if global greenhouse emissions peak around 2040, some parts of China like Shanghai would experience a more than 25% increase in extreme rainfall — while other areas, like northwestern Guangzhou-Shenzhen, would see more drought.
Though the rains have since eased, problems are likely to persist, as dozens of dams and reservoirs have breached warning levels.
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Xinhua reported on Wednesday afternoon that “a large section of the downstream slope of the dam has crumbled, but the dam itself has not collapsed.”
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Woman, 58, dies after being pulled down NYC subway stairs as thief tried to steal her son’s backpack
Than Than Htwe was walking home with her son, Kyaw Zaw Hein, in New York's Chinatown on July 17 when a thief stole her son's backpack and pulled her down the stairs of a subway platform on Canal St.3Than Than Htwe was pronounced dead on Tuesday night after spending 11 days in a coma after she was attacked in Manhattan's ChinatownCredit: CBS2 3Police are still looking for her attacker, David RobinsonCredit: NYPD
She was left in a coma for 11 days since her attack, and was pronounced dead on Tuesday night.
Her son, Hein, said the family is in mourning after his mother's passing, and they are hoping the police quickly find the suspect, identified by police as David Robinson, 52, who did this to their loved one.
"The doctors told us that the trauma to her head was so severe that she won’t be able to wake up," Hein said through a translator.
Htwe and Hein were walking off the Canal St. N stop platform on Saturday, July 17 when a man seen on video stole Hein's backpack, forcing him down the stairs.
As Hein reached out for help, he took his mother down with him.
“An update on her condition, our mother/wife won’t make it out of this," Hein wrote on a GoFundMe, which has raised close to $50,000 before her family stopped collecting donations.
"So we have decided to donate her organs for those who are in need. I want to say thank you again to all the people who supported us through this very hard time," the family wrote.
"If you know anything about the guy who did this to her. Please let the police know! He needs to pay justice for what has been done!! Thank you again."
Hein ended up telling CBS that he was Htwe's only child.
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"She’s a very good woman. She’s very responsible," said Htwe's husband, Myint Shein.
Htwe, a seamstress, will have her organs donated for those in need of transplants.
Both her son and husband said they fear for their lives given the increase in hate-related crimes and hope police or politicians can find her attacker.3Htwe's organs are being donated to those who are in need of transplantsCredit: gofundme