Torrential rainfall has caused massive flooding in the central Chinese province of Henan. Wednesday, the floods swept through Zhengzhou, the capital of the province and home to 12.6 million people, reported CNN.

  • Heavy rainfall is expected to continue until Thursday in parts of the region, reported the BBC.
  • Dozens of people have died, hundreds of thousands of people have been evacuated and 1.2 million people have been displaced, reported The Washington Post.
  • The floods even trapped hundreds of commuters in the underground subway system, per the BBC.

The recent — and ongoing — flooding is record-breaking for more than a dozen cities across the region and increasingly devastating, per CNBC.

What’s going on with the flooding in Henan, China?

In Zhengzhou, rising waters flooded the underground railway tunnels, rushing onto platforms and seeping into train cars. Passengers scrambled to keep their heads above the water and keep children from slipping under, reported the BBC. Multiple trapped passengers posted urgent calls for help on social media.

  • Emergency personnel made it to the scene in time to save most people on board, per CNN.
  • The floods killed 12 passengers on the train and five more are being treated for injuries, reported BBC.

Above ground, the rising waters rushed through the streets, catching debris, cars and sometimes people in the strong currents, reported CNN. Emergency personnel rescued 150 kids and teachers from flooded nursery schools. Children were floated out in plastic tubs.

  • In some affected cities, people remain trapped on their rooftops, unable to swim, per the BBC
  • Dams and reservoirs have reached warning levels and some could collapse at any time.
  • Flights and trains in the region have suspended service, per CNBC.
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So far, more than 200,000 people have been forced to evacuate and another 1.2 million have been displaced, reported The Washington Post. Much of the countryside remains underwater.

  • Thousands of emergency personnel and volunteers have begun rescue operations, per The Washington Post.

How much rain fell in the Henan province?

Heavy rainfall began over the weekend across Henan province, reported The Washington Post. The “rare and severe rainfall” continued into the week, said weather authorities according to BBC.

  • In Zhengzhou, a year’s worth of rainfall fell in just three days and “smashed historical records,” per BBC.
  • On Tuesday along, about 24.5 inches of rain fell on Zhengzhou — with more than 7.8 inches falling in a single hour, reported CNN.
  • In parts of Henan, more rain poured down in an hour than in an average month, per CNBC.

How widespread is the destruction?

Zhengzhou is an industrial, logistical and transportation hub. The city is also home to the world’s largest iPhone assembly plant which has so far been unaffected by flooding, reported CNBC.

  • The floods have disrupted the economy across the region, reported The Washington Post.
  • Henan’s countryside is part of China’s breadbasket so the recent flooding could have far-reaching consequences for agriculture, per The Washington Post.
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What caused the flooding?

The extreme rainfall in China alarmed officials and scientists. Atmospheric warming and climate change make extreme weather — like the Henan floods or Europe’s recent floods — increasingly likely, reported the BBC.

The Henan floods have raised questions about whether or not China is prepared to deal with increasingly extreme and unpredictable weather that results from climate change, reported CNN.