Updated Jul 21, 2021 - World

At least 12 dead and 100,000 evacuated amid severe flooding in China

People walking down a flooded road in Zhengzhou, China, on July 20.

People walking down a flooded road in Zhengzhou, China, on July 20. Photo: Feature China/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Torrential rain caused severe flooding in parts of China's Henan province on Tuesday, killing 12 and forcing more than 100,000 people to evacuate their homes, per Reuters.

The latest: Zhengzhou, Henan's capital, picked up 21.75 inches of rain over the 24-hour period ending on Tuesday. That's roughly 87% of the city's average annual precipitation in 24 hours, and about the same as its average seven-month total from April to October, according to the Weather Channel.

The big picture: Over a dozen cities were affected by flooding, though it was particularly bad in Zhengzhou where at least 12 people are dead.

  • The city's subway system was inundated, trapping passengers in waist-high floodwaters. Several cars were washed down streets.
  • In Dengfeng, an aluminum alloy plant exploded after floodwater entered a tank containing a high-temperature solution. No one was reported injured or missing from the accident, according to Reuters.
  • The Chinese military said a dam in Luoyang has developed a breach and was on the verge of collapsing, the BBC reported. The rain was forecast to stop by Thursday, per Reuters.

By the numbers: From Saturday to Tuesday, 3,535 weather stations in Henan recorded rainfall exceeding 2 inches, Reuters noted.

  • 1,614 of the stations reported levels above 4 inches (100 mm) and 151 were above 10 inches during the same period.

Thought bubble, via Axios' Andrew Freedman: Studies show that as the planet warms due to human activities, such as the burning of fossil fuels for energy, heavy precipitation events are becoming more likely and more severe.

  • The rains and flooding come barely a week after floods devastated parts of Europe killing more than 180, with the biggest toll in Germany.
  • This has played out worldwide in recent years and showcased the inadequacy of current infrastructure to withstand a more volatile climate.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

Go deeper