Record floods across China’s Henan province in July killed 302 people — three times the number originally reported — Henan Communist Party Officials announced Monday.
“The death toll from torrential rains in central China’s Henan Province has risen to 302 as of Monday noon,” Henan government officials told reporters at a press briefing on August 2.
“Another 50 people remain missing,” the officials added.
“A total of 292 people were confirmed dead and 47 missing in Zhengzhou City, the provincial capital, seven people dead and three missing in Xinxiang City, while the city of Pingdingshan and Luohe reported two and one death, respectively,” Xinhua, China’s official state-run press agency, relayed on Monday.
“[Henan] Authorities said 189 people were killed by floods and mudslides, 54 in house collapses and 39 in underground areas such as basements and garages and including those on subway Line 5,” the Associated Press (AP) reported on Monday, referring to a tragic inundation of the Zhengzhou Metro system on July 20 that killed at least 14 people.
Zhengzhou received eight inches of rain in a single hour starting at 4:00 p.m. on July 20, according to the AP. The ancient city recorded its highest daily rainfall on July 20 since its modern weather records began, “receiving the equivalent of eight months of rain in a single day,” according to estimates by the United Nations.
“Since July 16, record rainstorms had inundated Henan. In Zhengzhou, 617.1 mm [24.3 inches] of rainfall fell over a three-day period, close to the city’s average annual amount. The city also registered a record hourly precipitation rate of 201.9 mm [7.9 inches],” Xinhua reported on August 2.
Henan’s floods ravaged other cities besides Zhengzhou, including “Hebi, Anyang and Xinxiang,” according to the AP. “Seven people died and three are missing in Xinxiang, where record rains dropped more than 25 centimeters (10 inches) of water in a 19-hour period. Henan is an inland county about 620 kilometers (380 miles) southwest of Beijing.”
Henan’s government as recently as July 29 claimed the province’s flooding death toll was just 99. Many observers speculated that Henan’s true death toll was actually much higher than officially reported, however, as Zhengzhou alone is home to over 12.5 million people.
Severe storms continued throughout Henan for several days after July 20, causing major infrastructure damage province-wide.
“As of Monday noon, more than 14.53 million people in 150 county-level regions had been affected by downpours,” Henan’s government announced on August 2. “Over 1.09 million hectares of crops were damaged, and over 30,600 houses had collapsed across the province, official data showed.”
Local communist officials forced at least 1.5 million people to evacuate communities across Henan province after the floods destroyed large swathes of territory.