Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Corporate gatekeepers and big tech monopolists are making it more difficult than ever for independent media to survive. Please chip in today.

Cars sit in floodwaters after heavy rains hit the city of Zhengzhou in China's central Henan province on July 21, 2021. (Photo: STR/AFP via Getty Images)

Cars sit in floodwaters on July 21, 2021, after heavy rains hit the city of Zhengzhou in China's central Henan province. (Photo: STR/AFP via Getty Images)

In China, 'Heaviest Rain in 1,000 Years' Triggers Deadly Flooding, Landslides

At least 25 people in the central province of Henan have died and roughly 200,000 residents have been evacuated as of Wednesday.

Kenny Stancil

Devastating floods and landslides caused by days of heavy rainfall in China's central province of Henan have killed at least 25 people and displaced roughly 200,000 as of Wednesdayone of the most recent examples of extreme weather disasters linked to the fossil fuel-driven climate crisis wreaking havoc around the globe.

Less than a week after severe flooding in Germany and Belgium killed nearly 200 people, left hundreds missing, and stunned climate scientists, parts of China have been hit with an even more intense downpour. Described as China's "heaviest rain in 1,000 years," the storm began over the weekend and intensified on Tuesday.

According to Sky News, "More than 20 centimeters of rain fell on the city of Zhengzhou... in a single hour on Tuesday. In the recent European floods, the worst-hit areas of Germany saw 18.2 centimeters over three days."

Zhengzhou, a city of more than 10 million and the capital of Henan, received "the equivalent of eight months of rain in a single day," according to the United Nations, making it "the highest daily rainfall since weather records began."

Over the course of just three days, Zhengzhou, which is located adjacent to the Yellow River, one of China's main waterways, saw a year's worth of precipitation. As a result, the city's streets and subways were inundated, prompting an ongoing rescue effort.

Harrowing images and videos shared on Tuesday via social media depict passengers of Zhengzhou's underground rail system trapped on trains full of rising water.

Al Jazeera reported Wednesday that "at least twelve people were killed in the Metro, five more were injured, and more than 500 were rescued."

"The water reached my chest," one survivor wrote on social media, according to Al Jazeera. "I was really scared, but the most terrifying thing was not the water, but the increasingly diminishing air supply in the carriage."

Rainstorms also left students stranded at schools and caused power outages, including at a hospital in Zhengzhou.

The torrential downpour, which meteorologists reportedly expect to end by Thursday, has pummeled more than a dozen cities in Henan. Sky News noted that "from Saturday to Tuesday, 3,535 weather stations in Henan saw rainfall exceeding 5 centimeters, of which 1,614 had levels above 10 centimeters and 151 above 25 centimeters."

Citing the state-run Xinhua news agency, Al Jazeera reported that heavy rains triggered multiple landslides. Building collapses in Gongyi city killed at least four people.

According to Sky News:

The Shaolin Temple in Dengfeng had to close, and an aluminum plant in the city exploded, sending water surging into the facility.

The Longmen Grottoesa UNESCO World Heritage site featuring buddhas etched into limestone dating back as far as 500 A.D.are also threatened by the flooding.

More than 30 reservoirs in Henan have exceeded their warning levels...

"Some reservoirs had their dams burst... causing serious injury, loss of life, and property damage," Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Wednesday. "The flood control situation is extremely severe."

Late Tuesday night, China's military blasted the Yihetan dam to divert floodwaters that endangered the city of Luoyang, home to about seven million people.

The threat of flooding, Al Jazeera noted, "has worsened across the decades, due in part to widespread construction of dams and levees." The threat of flooding has also been exacerbated by the ongoing burning of coal, oil, and gas throughout the world, which increases the emission of planet-warming greenhouse gasesmaking extreme weather more likely and intense.

Last week, Greenpeace East Asia released a study warning that the risk of heatwaves and flooding in China is "now highest in densely-populated city centers but is growing fast in communities that are becoming more urban on the outskirts of the country's large cities," Al Jazeera reported.

Just days before it was hit with catastrophic floods, Henan endured a major heatwave, Bloomberg noted Wednesday.

"The deadly flood shows the unpredictable impacts from climate change are appearing more and more often," Zhang Jianyu, chief representative at the Environmental Defense Fund's Beijing office, told the news outlet. "It's a message to us that it's time to strengthen efforts to tackle [the] climate change crisis."

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'No Time to Waste': New Nationwide March Four Our Lives Protests Set for June 11

"Together, we rose up four years ago. One million of us demanded change. We built a movement. We voted for new leaders. And the gun deaths increased. Now is the moment we march again."

Brett Wilkins ·

'We Need Fewer Guns in Schools, Not More': Teachers Reject GOP Call for Armed Educators

"Teachers should be teaching, not acting as armed security guards," the president of a leading teachers' union asserted in the wake of the Robb Elementary School massacre in Texas.

Brett Wilkins ·

Faith Leaders, Teachers Mobilize for Protests at NRA's Houston Meeting in Wake of Uvalde Massacre

"Don't look away," said one advocacy group. "Rally against the NRA."

Julia Conley ·

NY Appeals Court Rules Trump and Two of His Kids Must Testify in Financial Fraud Case

"Our investigation will continue undeterred because no one is above the law," said New York Attorney General Letitia James.

Kenny Stancil ·

After Racist Massacre in Buffalo, Senate GOP Blocks Domestic Terrorism Bill

"There are a lot of MAGA Republicans for whom no amount of gun violence... will ever, ever convince them to take any action," said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

Jake Johnson ·

Common Dreams Logo