Zhengzhou citizens mourn Metro flood victims

Torrents of water rushed into Metro Line 5 in the provincial capital, Zhengzhou, trapping a train with hundreds of passengers between two stations on July 20.

The death toll from floods in central China's Henan Province rose to 71 on Tuesday as residents placed bouquets outside an entrance of a subway station where 14 people died last week.

Authorities raised the number of dead in the Metro from 12 to 14 Tuesday.

Torrents of water rushed into Metro Line 5 in the provincial capital, Zhengzhou, trapping a train with hundreds of passengers between two stations on July 20. The deluge drowned some and left others gasping for breath in chest-high water until emergency crews could reach them.

The city government announced on Tuesday the names of those who perished in the subway.

"Extreme rains caused severe water logging in parts of subway Line 5, and the retaining walls that protected the subway lines crumbled," the government statement said.

"I'm filled with grief," said Zhengzhou resident Zhang Shuai, 35, who bowed three times in front of the entrance of Shakou Road Station after laying a bouquet of chrysanthemums. "I hope that their relatives can recover from this tragedy as soon as possible."

Chinese traditionally mourn seven days after a person's death. A week since the flooding, a steady stream of mourners and delivery people left bouquets wrapped in black paper at the entrance of the closed Metro station.

Among the dead was 37-year-old Zou Deqiang, who was in Zhengzhou on a business trip from Shanghai and was among the commuters trapped inside the carriage.

He managed to get out of the train with other passengers, according to colleagues accompanying him. But as people moved along the tunnel, the powerful torrent swept him away.

"We were scattered. Then I lost contact with him and never saw him again," a colleague of Zou told The Paper.

Zou's wife, surnamed Bai, reached Zhengzhou on Thursday when she heard that Zou was not among the 500 passengers rescued from the station.

She kept a sleepless vigil at the station, blaring messages from a handheld loudspeaker like "Cheer up, husband! I'm coming for you!" and "Zou Deqiang! Just hang in there and wait for the rescue!"

Eventually, search and rescue efforts on Sunday morning found an unidentified body in the tunnel, and DNA tests on Monday confirmed it to be Zou.

A video conference held by the central government on Monday said subway systems nationwide should enhance their emergency response capabilities, implement flood-control measures and respond quickly to early warnings.

In case of emergencies, natural disasters and other safety threats, Metro-operation units should swiftly suspend the operation of some sections or the entire network as per the regulations, and activate contingency plans in time, the conference said.

Metro-operating units should enhance their first-response capabilities by establishing and improving professional emergency-rescue teams, and providing sufficient emergency facilities, equipment and materials.

Cities with Metro networks are required to carry out self-check and overhaul, and the central government will send experts to key cities for supervision, the conference noted.

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