As many as 33 people reportedly died and several still remain missing as rescue operations continue following the worst flood in China in 1,000 years. Torrential rains triggered landslides and the floods, leading inundated neighbourhoods, trapped passengers in subway cars, and even overflowing dams.

Henan, which is China’s most populous province, has been worst affected. Several thousand who are trapped are reportedly being evacuated. In Henan’s capital Zhengzhou – home to 12 million people — as many as 12 people were killed after they were trapped for hours on a flooded subway line.

In interviews with local media, and on social media, some survivors have now shared how water entered and caused disaster on the underground Line 5 of the Zhengzhou subway, CNN reported. Notably, the incident unfolded during the evening rush hour on Tuesday wherein several passengers were trapped after rising rainwater entered into the tunnel and seeped inside the trains.

Survivors recount horror

In a post on Chinese microblogging site Weibo, a woman said water began to seep into the carriage soon after it stopped between two stations. Subway staff had initially instructed passengers to leave the train and evacuate through the tunnel, but were soon told to head back due to gushing floodwater ahead, the CNN report added.

However, when the commuters reached the subway cars, the water had already reached their waists – and it kept rising as more water entered the tunnel and the carriage through gaps between the subway car doors. “We tried to stand on seats as much as we could, but even then, the water reached our chests in the end,” CNN quoted her as writing on Weibo.

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She, however, added that the most “terrifying” thing was not the rising floodwater, but the “diminishing air in the carriage – as many seemed to have trouble breathing.” “I was really scared,” she wrote.

At this time, she heard another woman providing her family with her bank details over the phone, and she wondered if she should follow suit, the CNN report added. She ended up sending a message to her mother, telling her that she “might not make it.” She spent the next two and half hours on the “brink of breakdown” while awaiting rescue.

The woman, however, fainted later due to lack of oxygen and was awakened by a call from her mother, who informed that rescue was on the way. It was then that she heard footsteps atop the train as firefighters smashed open the windows to let fresh air in. Eventually, more rescuers arrived before the passengers were evacuated one after another – those who fainted first, followed by women.

Strangely, the woman’s post on Weibo was later deleted and CNN said that they failed to verify her account as well.

In another such experience recounted by a survivor, a woman told state-run China Youth Daily that she failed to control herself from weeping after noticing flood water seeping inside the train. Some other people around her also cried. Several others attempted to call an emergency number and even asked their family and friends to get help, but to no avail. She said that among the passengers were pregnant women, elderly people, and even children. By 9pm when the water inside the carriage reached their throats, people around her began gasping for air, retching and shaking, the CNN report stated.

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“I was really terrified at that time. When I saw the water rising above our heads outside the window, I was preparing myself to accept that I would never be able to get out,” CNN quoted her as saying to China Youth Daily.

Her phone only had 30% battery left, and she closed all other apps and sent messages to her relatives and friends on WeChat. She asked her parents to send help till 9pm, but after that, she was primarily making arrangements for people to take care of things in the event she died.

Floods in central China have made several other cities come to a standstill as well. Aerial views of the region after the floods hit showed cars piled up one over another in highways. The Chinese military has opened a dam to release the floodwater from Henan, however, they added that the death toll is likely to rise further, the Associated Press reported.

According to CNN, officials said that over 6,000 firefighters and 2,000 military and paramilitary forces had been deployed across regions affected by the disaster.

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