Rescue operation begins after record rain, tales of despair

Floods in China: Many people barely had food for days as water, electricity and phone signals were cut off.

Gongyi County, China:

Homes in ruins, cobbled paths and a sea of ​​mud-coated cars, the once prosperous central Chinese city of Mihe was still in shock on Thursday as residents turned to food handouts and fell asleep after record-breaking storms . Devastated locals surveyed the damage as the rain finally stopped, treading carefully on the broken floor between broken electric poles and wires.

“I’ve lost everything, it’s all washed away,” said a middle-aged resident before bursting into tears.

Many had barely eaten for days as water, electricity and phone signals were cut off.

“Mihe used to be a vibrant, prosperous city, but now it is completely ruined,” explained Du, a 22-year-old university student. AFP.

AFP The stricken Henan province was given rare access to join a rescue operation, joining a large team of volunteers who traveled hundreds of miles overnight to offer help. With cars loaded with food, water and supplies, the Blue Sky Rescue team reached Mihe early Thursday.

Volunteer Wang Lang said they arrived in that city in response to calls from local firefighters about trapped residents, and worked with authorities to “evacuate residents and remove bodies”.

At least two people died in their homes in the area during the storm, he said, as calls continued throughout the day of other deaths — including one girl being trapped by a fallen tree.

So far 33 people have died in the floods in Henan province, but that number is expected to rise as the storm has subsided and rescue operations continue in a heavily populated area where communications have been severely disrupted.

Hundreds of thousands of people have been affected by floods in Henan province, floodwaters have destroyed fields and halted transportation.

With much signal, a student from the province started an open-source spreadsheet for relatives to list lost or stranded loved ones. Hundreds of names quickly surfaced in this list shared on social media.

As their work continued through Thursday, rescuers with shovels and helmets grappled with a thick layer of soil at least a foot deep, trying to bring back a handful of normal residents.

“When I first arrived here and saw villagers clearing corn grains from the fields, I was deeply saddened,” said a volunteer in his thirties named Zhou.

Small, one-story homes were the worst affected, and Blue Sky helped move some elderly relatives from the devastated city to higher ground.

Locals told stories of being pulled to safety from flooded homes, going to higher floors, and seeing neighboring houses come down under attack.

“We couldn’t evacuate in time because my elderly disabled grandmother couldn’t leave the house,” said Zhang, a 16-year-old schoolboy who said her house was completely flooded.

“I was so afraid that I might drown.”

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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