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2021-07-23 10:13:53

This story has been updated with latest information.

The death toll from the record rainfall and floods in central Henan province earlier this week has climbed to at least 56 as of Friday, according to state-run Xinhua News Agency.

The “once in a millennium” rainfall has affected more than 7 million people across the province and resulted in economic losses of over 65 billion yuan ($10 billion), according to official estimates. As of Friday, five people were still missing, though locals say that number could be higher.

Provincial authorities said rescue efforts were also ongoing at the Jingguang North Road Tunnel in the provincial capital of Zhengzhou – one of the worst affected cities – that was inundated by floodwater. Eyewitnesses told domestic media that hundreds of cars were piled up inside the tunnel.

“It’s confirmed that there were some deaths, but the number is still being verified,” the provincial emergency management department told Xinhua.

On Tuesday, Zhengzhou experienced a record 457 millimeters of rainfall, nearly a year’s worth of precipitation, resulting in massive flooding that inundated vehicles, metro stations, and houses. Some 585,000 people in the province have been evacuated to safety since the flooding.

An estimated 30,000 police officers, 5,000 emergency workers, and 164,000 volunteers have been deployed for rescue operations in Zhengzhou alone, according to local authorities. The city's power lines and communication networks disrupted by the floods are expected to be restored by the end of the weekend. 

Other cities in Henan, including Gongyi, Xinxiang, Jiaozuo, and Weihui, have also reported record-high rainfalls. Locals told Sixth Tone that poor communication networks and road blockades have made rescue efforts difficult in remote areas.

Editor: Bibek Bhandari.

(Header image: People cross a damaged bridge after a torrential rainfall in Mihe, Gongyi, Henan Province, July 21, 2021. IC)