The Chinese military has warned that a stricken dam in the center of the country “could collapse at any time” after being badly damaged by torrential storms that killed at least three people and crippled the region.
Meteorological authorities issued the highest level of warning for central Henan Province as torrential rains caused widespread disruption and evacuation of residents from flooded streets.
On Tuesday evening, the regional unit of the People’s Liberation Army warned that the relentless downpour had caused a 20-meter breach in the Yihetan Dam in Luoyang – a city of around seven million people – with the risk. that it “can collapse at any time. time. “
The PLA’s central theater command said it had sent soldiers to carry out an emergency response, including explosions and flood diversions.
“On July 20, a 20-meter breach occurred at the Yihetan dam (…) the bank was severely damaged and the dam could collapse at any time,” the statement said.
Floods are frequent during the rainy season in China, causing annual chaos and washing away roads, crops and homes.
But the threat has worsened over the decades, in part due to the widespread construction of dams and dikes that cut connections between the river and adjacent lakes and disrupted floodplains that had helped to absorb the surge. summer.
– Flooded metro –
In nearby Zhengzhou city, at least one person has died and two more have been missing since heavy rains began to hit the city, according to People’s Daily, which reported houses collapsed.
Local media reported that two people died when a wall collapsed in another part of the city.
According to meteorological authorities, rainfall was the highest on record since records began sixty years ago, with the city having recorded an average year of rainfall in just three days.
Authorities closed the flooded Zhengzhou metro and canceled hundreds of flights.
Unverified videos on social media showed passengers in a flooded underground train car in Zhengzhou clinging to the handles as the water inside rose to shoulder height, some standing on seats.
Water could be seen gushing out through an empty underground platform in footage from public broadcaster CCTV.
On its official Weibo account, firefighters shared information that passengers were being rescued from stranded trains, but did not release their own statement.
A passenger’s account said firefighters and rescuers cut a hole in the roof of his car and evacuated the passengers one by one.
Footage showed a man sitting on top of his half-submerged car in an underpass.
More than 10,000 people were evacuated by Tuesday afternoon, provincial officials said, warning 16 reservoirs had seen water rise to dangerous levels as downpours ruined thousands of acres of crops and caused damage amounting to approximately $ 11 million.
© 2021 AFP