China flooding kills a dozen people in industrial centre Zhengzhou

City that is home to world’s largest iPhone assembly plant suffers ‘once in a millennium’ event

Zhengzhou received more rain between Saturday and Tuesday than it normally gets in a year, deluging streets and subways © Reuters

Severe flooding has killed at least a dozen people in Zhengzhou, the central Chinese city that is home to the world’s largest iPhone assembly plant, as record rainfall threatened to burst through nearby dams.

The torrential rain was described by the local weather authorities as being a “once in a millennium” event that surpassed anything recorded since 1951, submerging streets and stranding passengers in subway cars.

From Saturday evening to Tuesday, 671.1mm of rain fell on Zhengzhou, more than the annual average volume of 604.8mm. On Tuesday afternoon, 201.9mm fell in a single hour.

Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan province, is an important industrial hub. Its iPhone assembly plant is operated by Taiwan-based Apple supplier Hon Hai Precision Industry, better known as Foxconn. The company said that there was “no direct impact on our facility in that location to date”, adding it was closely monitoring the situation and had activated an emergency response plan for flood control.

The city’s metro system was shut on Tuesday evening after part of a wall to keep water out of the tunnels collapsed. Videos on social media showed subway cars full of people standing in waist-high water waiting to be rescued.

Twenty-five people were dead and seven missing in Zhengzhou, local officials said at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, with 12 killed and five injured on the subway alone, according to an initial count released by Chinese state media. Another four deaths were reported by state media in Gongyi, a nearby city.

A series of dams on the city’s outskirts were at risk of bursting, forcing authorities to alleviate pressure by discharging water.

Zhengzhou ground to a standstill as flights and trains were cancelled and power outages struck large sections of the city.

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