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Death toll in central China floods rises to 56, losses mount to $10 billion

 PTI / Jul 23, 2021, 20:45 IST

BEIJING: The death toll from the rain-triggered unprecedented floods in central China has risen to 56 with five people reported missing and the official estimated losses totalled about $10 billion, the state media reported on Friday.

The torrential rains, the heaviest in 1,000 years, have affected about three million people in Henan province and a total of 376,000 local residents have been relocated to safe places, the provincial emergency management department said.

The death toll from the torrential rains in central China's Henan province has risen to 56, with five people reported missing, the state-run Xinhua news agency quoted local authorities as saying.

Rescue efforts including drainage operations are still underway at Jingguang Road tunnel in the provincial capital Zhengzhou, a waterlogged underpass where many vehicles had been trapped since Tuesday, according to the provincial emergency management department.

The department said there was still a large amount of water in the tunnel, where casualties have been reported. The exact number of casualties has yet to be confirmed.

The direct economic losses have gone up to 65.5 billion yuan ($10 billion), the state-run China Daily quoted local authorities as saying.

As Zhengzhou city of 12 million people limped back to normalcy, rescuers are assisting thousands of people caught in the floodwaters. On Thursday, officials raced to evacuate patients as hospitals were flooded by rainstorms. The patients were shifted to hospitals that escaped the flood fury.

Zhengzhou, meanwhile, downgraded its emergency response level as it continued to clean up after this week's devastating floods, but other parts of Henan province were bracing for more heavy rainfall, the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported.

Zhengzhou was hit by several days of heavy rainfall, causing floods of an intensity not seen in decades.

Over 8,000 military personnel worked in 10 different danger zones around the city, Xinhua news agency reported.

Donation counters were set up around the city to distribute essential supplies after the panic-stricken residents bought supplies during the first days of the flood.

Meanwhile, fire crews have been touring the surrounding villages to help residents who have been injured or are trapped and were working throughout the day to drain the flooded roads.

Streets were turned into rushing rivers, washing away people and vehicles and apartments. Hundreds of cars washed away in floods have piled up in different parts of the city.