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Man rescued after being trapped in flooded underground garage for three days

Li Yongsheng lay on a ventilation duct after floods hit the city of Zhengzhou.

Rescuers help evacuate stranded people at the entry to an expressway in flood-hit Zhengzhou.
Rescuers help evacuate stranded people at the entry to an expressway in flood-hit Zhengzhou.
Image: Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

A MAN IN central China was rescued after spending three days trapped in a flooded underground garage following torrential rains while at least four bodies were found after a traffic tunnel was drained, according to news reports.

The death toll rose to 58 after record rains hit the major city of Zhengzhou on Tuesday, state TV reported, citing Li Changxun, deputy director of Henan Provincial Emergency Management Department.

Meanwhile, rescuers used bulldozers and rubber boats to evacuate residents of areas that still were under water, according to the Shanghai news outlet The Paper.

The rains flooded a Zhengzhou subway tunnel where at least 12 people died, knocked out power to a hospital and other buildings, and left streets filled with mud. Dozens of trains in the region were delayed for up to 40 hours.

Li Yongsheng was found yesterday afternoon in a garage under the Jincheng International Plaza in Zhengzhou’s Jinshui District, according to The Paper. It said he was trapped when the garage flooded on Tuesday and lay on a ventilation duct surrounded by floating cars.

A photo on The Paper’s website showed Li being guided by rescue workers through chest-deep water. It said he was taken to hospital with a crush injury.

Today, skies were mostly clear but parts of Zhengzhou and other cities including Hebi, Xinxiang and Anyang still were under water.

In Hebi, rescuers were moving people out of areas where water was up to six feet deep, The Paper said. It said authorities intentionally flooded parts of Hebi on Saturday afternoon to lower water levels elsewhere.

A video on The Paper’s website showed rescuers in boats making their way down streets through waist-deep water.

In Zhengzhou, a city of 12 million people, bodies and more than 200 wrecked cars were found in the Jingguang North Road Tunnel, where water up to 43ft deep was pumped out, The Paper reported.

The Ministry of Emergency Management sent flood drainage teams with 300 people and equipment from neighbouring provinces, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

xinhua-headlines-moments-of-solidarity-in-henans-deadly-rainstorm Local residents transfer belongings in flood-hit Zhengzhou Source: Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

xinhua-headlines-moments-of-solidarity-in-henans-deadly-rainstorm Source: Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

Typhoon In-Fa

China shut down ports and railways today as it braced for Typhoon In-Fa – forecast to make landfall late Sunday in the eastern coastal province of Zhejiang near Shanghai, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

Chinese authorities have issued a level III alert – the third-highest – for the storm, while more than 100 trains travelling through the region have been cancelled, according to China Railway.

Shanghai authorities closed some public parks and museums and warned residents today to “stop large-scale outdoor gatherings” and to stay indoors.

Meanwhile, all container ship docks were shut down from Yangshan Port south of Shanghai and 150 vessels including passenger ships and cargo vessels were evacuated from the area.

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Millions have been affected by the floods, with some trapped without fresh food or water for days and others lifted to safety in excavator buckets.

More than 495,000 people have been evacuated, according to the Henan government, with the flooding causing billions of dollars in losses.

evacuation-at-zhengzhou-flooded-area Forklift truck, off-roaders and canoe are used to transport trapped residents during the historical flood in Baisha Town Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

Henan emergency response official Li Changxun warned today that the province would need to undertake large-scale cleaning and disinfecting to “ensure the disaster is not followed by an epidemic.”

Torrential downpours dumped a year’s rain in just three days this week on the hardest-hit city of Zhengzhou, where at least a dozen people died inside a subway train during Tuesday’s rush hour after floodwaters trapped passengers in their carriages.

State media warned that In-Fa could bring more torrential downpours to parts of the province in the coming days.

China has suffered an annual flood season for millennia, but the record rainfall in Henan has prompted questions about how China’s cities could be better prepared for freak weather events, which experts say are happening with increased frequency and intensity due to climate change.

Henan province is striated by rivers, dams and reservoirs, many constructed decades ago to manage the flow of floodwater and irrigate the agricultural region, but rapid urban sprawl has strained existing drainage systems.

- With reporting from AFP

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