By G9ija

Pedestrians wade through flooding after heavy rain in Zhengzhou, the capital of China’s central Henan province. Rainwater inundated the city’s subway system and forced thousands of residents from their homes. (Uncredited/AP)The NationalJul 20, 2021

About 100,000 people have been evacuated from the central Chinese city of Zhengzhou as record rainfall caused widespread flooding and economic disruptions to Henan province.

The province is home to the world’s biggest production base for iPhones and a major centre for food production and heavy industry.

Pictures published by state media showed large sections of roads submerged in Zhengzhou, a city of 10 million, while videos on social media showed passengers stuck in flooded subway cars with water up to their shoulders and residents being pulled to safety with ropes from fast-moving floodwaters.

State news agency Xinhua reported that 12 deaths had been confirmed.

The deluge has since Tuesday brought the equivalent of more than eight months’ worth of the city’s average rainfall, and interrupted the operations of at least one global company with manufacturing operations there.

Nissan Motor Company has temporarily halted production in Zhengzhou, according to a spokeswoman for the company. SAIC Motor Corporation, China’s biggest car maker, said that logistics around its factory in Zhengzhou have been affected by the floods in the short term, but that the plant had not been damaged.

Meanwhile, Taiwan’s Hon Hai Precision Industry, which owns a huge iPhone production plant in Zhengzhou, said that it had activated an emergency response plan for flood control measures but that the flooding has had no direct effect on the facility.

Hon Hai’s plant receives components needed to assemble iPhones from global and domestic Chinese suppliers before shipping out the finished products. The flooding struck as the company is preparing to increase output before the launch of Apple’s latest devices towards the end of the year.

About 260 flights have been cancelled.

Zhengzhou is braced for more downpours and the city’s subway operator said it would close all stations because of the bad weather.

Weather authorities issued the most severe warning for central Henan province.

State broadcaster CCTV showed residents being rescued in rafts from flooded streets .

One emergency worker carried a baby; a man in an underpass sat on top of his half-submerged car.

The flooding in Henan may also affect China’s food supply.

The province is the country’s second-largest food producer. It accounts for about a quarter of the wheat harvest and is a major centre for frozen food production. Henan is also the home of the world’s biggest pork processor WH Group, which acquired US meat production company Smithfield Food in 2013.

On Wednesday, rescue workers and authorities continued to work to prevent dam breaches, restore lost power and pump out submerged petrol stations.

China’s military blasted a dam to release floodwaters threatening one of its most heavily populated provinces.

The operation late on Tuesday in the city of Luoyang came after at least 12 people died in severe flooding in the provincial capital of Zhengzhou, where residents were trapped in the subway system and left stranded at schools, apartments and offices.

President Xi Jinping urged officials to step up disaster relief measures, state broadcaster CCTV reported. Inbound flights to Zhengzhou have been suspended.

Zhengzhou recorded 457.5 millimetres of rain in the 24 hours up to 5pm on Tuesday, the highest since records began for the city of more than 10 million people, Xinhua reported. That included a record 201.9mm in an hour, from 4pm to 5pm a record for mainland China. Zhengzhou typically receives average annual precipitation of about 640.8mm.

The record rainfall came shortly after key Chinese cities said that homes and factories faced new power failures as historic demand and supply shortages strain energy grids.

To the north of Zhengzhou, the famed Shaolin Temple, known for its Buddhist monks’ mastery of martial arts, was also badly hit.

China experiences regular flooding in summer, but the growth of cities and conversion of farmland into subdivisions has increased the effects of such events.