(Video) Floods still at waist height in Zhengzhou; 73,000 evacuated from AnyangChina | 22 Jul 2021 3:11 pm
Tens of thousands of people were being evacuated from flood-hit regions of central China on Thursday as officials raised the death toll from heavy rains that have deluged Henan province for almost a week to 33 people, Reuters reports.
More cities were inundated and crops destroyed as the severe weather spread northwards.
The state news agency Xinhua reported direct economic losses of 1.22 billion yuan ($189 million) so far.
The provincial weather bureau on Thursday raised the storm alert for four cities in the north of Henan - Xinxiang, Anyang, Hebi and Jiaozuo - to red, the highest tier of a four-step colour-coded weather warning system.
The fatalities included 12 people who were killed when the subway in the provincial capital of Zhengzhou, about 650 km (400 miles) southwest of Beijing, was flooded earlier this week.
Eight people are listed as missing across the province.
In Zhengzhou, where the bad weather reached a peak on Tuesday, the skies had cleared but floodwaters were still at waist height, or higher, with entire streets underwater in many areas.
Rescue teams used rubber rafts to ferry residents to safety, while others waded through the waters carrying belongings above their heads, or waited on partially submerged cars to be picked up.
One family transported their young children in a blow-up swimming pool, while another group of people was carried through the floodwaters on a digger truck.
Some 617.1 mm (24.3 inches) of rain fell in Zhengzhou from Saturday to Tuesday, almost the equivalent of the city's annual average of 640.8 mm (25.2 inches), inundating the subway and trapping people at work as others took cover at makeshift shelters at museums, libraries and cinemas.
As the storm moved north on Thursday, more than 73,000 people were being evacuated from the city of Anyang, on Henan's border with Hebei province.
The city had been swamped by more than 600 mm of rainfall since Monday, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
Two people were killed in Hebei province when a tornado struck the city of Baoding on Wednesday.