"Flood-prevention efforts have become very difficult," said China's Xi Jinping in a televised statement. That's putting it mildly as central China experiences flooding said to be the heaviest in 1,000 years. The downpour is slamming Henan province and its capital of Zhengzhou, which in three days has seen as much rain as it typically does annually. The result: streets flooded neck-high; ditto subways, with deadly results, reports the Telegraph. On Tuesday at least 12 people died after being trapped up to their necks in flooded subway cars. Zhengzhou was hammered by 24.5 inches of rain on Tuesday—8 inches of it between 4pm and 5pm, per the AP—and subway passengers took to social media to plead for assistance.
CNN quotes one woman as writing, "The water inside the carriage has reached chest-levels! I already can't speak anymore, please help!" The BBC quotes another as writing of water that leaked through closed doors and increased from "our ankles to our knees to our necks. All of us who could, stood on the subway seats." CBS News flags what it calls "nerve-shredding images" posted to social media that show passengers trying to cope with rapidly rising water levels. The heavy rain isn't expected to let up until Thursday. The AP notes that flooding is commonplace in China during the summer, and Henan is at particular risk as it sits in the Yellow River basin (with Zhengzhou on the Yellow River itself), where rivers are prone to flooding and where extensive dam construction has severed connections between rivers and lakes and altered flood plains that historically soaked up much of the rain. (Read more flooding stories.)