Trucks carrying water and food are streaming into a city in central China after flooding killed at least 63 people, while soldiers repaired flood barriers
XINXIANG, China — Trucks carrying water and food on Sunday streamed into a Chinese city hit hard by flooding that killed at least 63 people, while soldiers laid sandbags to fill gaps in river dikes that have left neighborhoods under water.
Residents cleared away mud, wrecked cars and other debris after record rains that started Tuesday and flooded streets and disrupted train service in Henan province. The rains have subsided, but some neighborhoods were still waiting for water up to two meters (six feet) deep to drain.
The provincial government raised the death toll to 63 on Sunday, with five people missing, state TV reported. It said 8,876 homes had collapsed.
Trucks dropped off instant noodles and other goods at a stadium in Xinxiang, 40 miles (65 kilometers) north of the Zhengzhou, the provincial capital. Volunteers shifted pallets of drinking water stacked higher than their heads onto other trucks for distribution, occasionally breaking into cheers of, “Go, Xinxiang!”
The city was hit as the rains moved north from Zhengzhou, where flash floods killed more than 50 people, including 12 in the inundated subway system.
Business owner Han Yuan and her employees loaded boxes of disinfectant onto a truck for delivery to the city’s Fengquan district, one of the worst-hit areas. “This is the city that raised me, and every one of us is devoting all we have to protect this city,” she said.
Three military helicopters were used to bring drinking water, medicine, food and other relief items to about 20,000 people in inaccessible areas, including Xinxiang’s Hongzhou and Yuhe townships, the official Xinhua News Agency said.
Direct economic losses throughout Henan were estimated at 13.9 billion yuan ($2 billion), Xinhua reported. It said more than 1.1 million people had been relocated to safer areas.
Lu Qinghan, the owner of a recycling station, estimated she lost 30,000 to 40,000 yuan ($4,700 to $6,200), at least one third of her annual income, after floods washed away some of the station’s waste material.
Her family got power back Sunday evening, but still needed clean water. Fengquan district residents lined up to register at a relief station for bottles of water.
“When (the flooding) was at its most severe, there was no electricity, and I couldn’t see anything,” Lu said. “When I smelled something different, the water was already reaching my bed.”
Emergency crews were trying to close gaps in flood dikes that flooded sections of villages.
Soldiers and paramilitary police dumped stones and sandbags into a 100-meter-long (300-foot-long), eight-meter-deep (25-foot-deep) gap on the Weihe river in Xinxiang, the state-owned Global Times newspaper reported.
On Saturday, authorities intentionally had flooded parts of the nearby city of Hebi to lower water levels elsewhere, according to Shanghai online news outlet The Paper.
In Xinxiang, Zhang Meirong said she was so moved when people from Heze city in neighboring Shandong province came to help that she asked her daughter to take photos of them.
“I couldn’t feel more touched,” she said. “I didn’t have much education, and I couldn’t express it too well, but it’s all in my heart.”
Associated Press news assistant Caroline Chen contributed.