China floods force tens of thousands from their homes as number dead rises to at least 33

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Tens of thousands of people have been forced to leave their homes in parts of central China, as officials said the number of dead from record-breaking floods had risen to at least 33.

More than 73,000 residents have moved out of the city of Anyang, where more than 23.6 inches (600mm) of rain has fallen since Monday, Chinese state media said.

It brings the total number of people forced from their homes to more than 170,000, while eight are listed as missing across the deluged Henan province.

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A badly-damaged bridge in the village of Gongyi in Henan province

Anyang is one of four cities in the north of Henan province forecast to suffer China’s highest classification of storm, alongside Xinxiang, Hebi and Jiaozuo. They have all been issued with a red storm alert by forecasters.

Xinxiang, a small city north of Zhengzhou with a population of around six million, has been especially badly hit, with a record 32 inches (812mm) of rain between Tuesday and Thursday.

More than 470,000 people and 55,000 hectares (136,000 acres) of crops there have been affected, while seven medium-sized reservoirs in the city overflowed, flooding scores of nearby towns and villages.

A search and rescue operation with more than 76,000 people is under way, the official Xinhua news agency said.

In neighbouring Hebei province, two people were killed when a tornado struck the city of Baoding.

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China: Subway passengers drown as rains hit

At least 12 of the total fatalities came when waters flooded the Zhengzhou underground.

Pictures of commuters in chest-deep water in dark carriages emerged, prompting Beijing to order local authorities to immediately improve urban transit flood controls and emergency responses.

More than 500 were pulled to safety.

China’s ministry of transport said in a statement: “They must take emergency measures such as suspending trains, evacuating passengers, and closing stations in atypical situations such as excessively intense storms.”

Attention is also being focused on the country’s weather forecasting operation and whether more warning could have been given.

Around 24 inches (617.1mm) of rain fell in Zhengzhou from Saturday to Tuesday, almost as much as the city’s annual average of 25.2 inches (640.8mm).

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People swept away by floodwater in China

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In a move to avoid further damage, the country’s military blew up a dam to release floodwaters in the city of Luoyang, west of Zhengzhou.

Meanwhile, the bodies of 14 workers trapped when a tunnel under construction was flooded in Zhuhai last week have also been recovered.

Like recent heatwaves in the US and Canada and extreme flooding seen in western Europe, the rainfall in China was almost certainly linked to global warming, scientists have said.

Summer flooding is a regular event in China, but the growth of cities and conversion of farmland into subdivisions has raised the impact of such events.

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