World Villagers flee fresh floods in central China as typhoon approaches
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Editor's note: CNN has launched the Meanwhile in China newsletter, a three-times-a-week update exploring what you need to know about the country's rise and how it impacts the world. Sign up here. © Wali Sabawoon/NurPhoto/Getty Images Afghan Taliban fighters and villagers attend a gathering as they celebrate the peace deal signed between US and Taliban in Laghman Province, Alingar district on March 2, 2020. One is a government accused of detaining more than 1 million Muslims in a vast system of internment camps. The other is one of the world's strictest Islamist militant groups.
Villagers were evacuated over makeshift bridges Friday as floods submerged swathes of central China, following a historic deluge which claimed at least 33 lives, while a typhoon threatened to bring more misery as it headed towards the country's east coast.
Millions have been affected by the floods in Henan province, trapping people for days without fresh food or water, pulverising roads as they breached embankments and caking whole areas in thick mud.
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Today is Friday. Welcome to Equilibrium, a newsletter that tracks the growing global battle over the future of sustainability. Subscribe here: thehill.com/newsletter-signup. NASA scientists are warning of a new factor that could add to the danger coastal cities face from more powerful storm surges and rising seas - moon wobble - as Joseph Guzman reported for The Hill's Changing America. The moon controls the tides - and during half of its 18 year cycle, a wobble in its orbit means that "high tides get higher, and low tides get lower," NASA noted.
In the worst-hit city of Zhengzhou firefighters on Friday continued to pump the muddy water from tunnels including a subway where at least a dozen people drowned inside a train earlier in the week as a year's worth of rainfall dumped down in just three days.
Overnight heavy rain saw floods surge northwards to Xinxiang and its surrounding areas where vast swathes of farmland were inundated and the town cut off as the Wei River burst its banks, thwarting efforts to plug the gaps with trucks.
Ariel footage showed rescuers using temporary bridges on Friday to move hundreds of residents to safety, as tree tops poking above the water were the only sign of land for miles.
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"Presently, nearly 9,000 people have been safely transferred," state broadcaster CCTV said, adding authorities were evacuating "the remaining 19,000 people."
Videos shared over social media have provided a raw window into the destructive power of the floods, which tossed cars into piles and sucked pedestrians towards storm drains.
Harrowing footage from passengers trapped inside the subway at rush hour, where waters rose from ankle to neck height, pinballed across China's Twitter-like Weibo as questions were asked about why the underground network was allowed to operate during an unprecedented storm.
- Coastal warning -
Meteorologists are now anxiously watching the progress of Typhoon In Fa which has already dumped heavy rainfall on Taiwan and the east coast of China and is expected to make landfall from Sunday, in an area home to tens of millions of people.
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"After landing, In-fa may circulate in the east China region, bringing long periods of extremely heavy rainfall," the National Meteorological Center said.
During Saturday and Sunday's high tides "coastal areas should guard against the combined impact of wind, rain and tides," it added, warning the public to prepare for a major weather event.
Questions have been asked on how China's bulging 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 marked by rivers, dams and reservoirs, many constructed decades ago to manage the flow of floodwater and irrigate the agricultural region.
State media has rebuked suggestions that dams played a part in subverting the normal flow of water.
Stories of remarkable survival and tragedy have emerged as floods retreat from southern parts of Henan, with a baby dug out from a collapsed house while her mother died in the debris.
Locals in Gongyi on Thursday recounted stories of being pulled from flooded homes to safety or scrambling to higher floors unable to flee.
"We couldn't evacuate in time because my elderly disabled grandma couldn't leave the house," one 16-year-old school student surnamed Zhang, who said their house was completely flooded, told AFP. "I was pretty scared I'd drown."
Amid crushing floods in China, officials focus not on climate change, but on control .
Henan adheres to a familiar formula in Xi Jinping's China: Authorities turn tragedy into triumph, while controlling victims' narratives.Chen Yuanqiu lived nearby. He had witnessed the flood and knew that during rush hour the tunnel could be clogged with hundreds of cars. The government said that only six people had drowned. But rumors in chat groups suggested that bodies were being taken out of the tunnel in secret.