Heavy rains have hit the central Chinese city of Zhengzhou hard this past week. On Tuesday, the city received the equivalent of one-third of its annual average rainfall in the span of one hour.
Officials say that the death toll across Henan Province has reached over 50. But one local who survived a brush with death says he expects a far higher number after escaping from a submerged subway train on July 20.
Wang Jun, using an alias, recounted his and other passengers’ experience from July 20 to The Epoch Times’ Chinese-language edition.
Wang was one of the hundreds of passengers who embarked Line 5 that evening. He recalls the train departed the station after 5:00 p.m., but it would be hours before he got off.
“The front three or four cars were almost full,” Wang said. The subway traveled from one station to the next, stopping for long intervals at each destination.
After departing from Beach Temple Station, the subway came to a complete halt in the tunnel. Water then began seeping into the train.
“The train conductor opened all the doors and let us out, hoping we could walk [out of the tunnel] along a small path by the tunnel wall,” Wang said. “After walking for a while in the tunnel, we found we could not get out, so we all went back into the train and waited there. We were stuck.”
He provided a video of people trudging through water as they got back into the subway cart. All they could do was wait as the water rose from their feet, then knees, and by 8 p.m., to their chests.
The next two hours were “the longest and most dangerous two hours” in his life, Wang said.
Passengers gripped handrails as the flood slowly submerged them. On top of the rising water was thinning air.
“We did not panic at first,” Wang said, “but later there was not enough air, and many people could not breathe. Then we all became nervous.”
To get more air, they worked to break the windows. Most Chinese public transportation vehicles are equipped with small, metal-tipped hammers to shatter windows in emergencies. Those hammers weren’t to be found on this subway train.
Wang said the passengers in his car opted for fire extinguishers to smash the windows open, allowing in more breathable air. But the water kept rising.
Not long after, the electricity went out, including the lights. So they waited in darkness.
Finally, help arrived. Rescuers arrived and water surrounding the train began draining away. The passengers got out and were on their way to safety.
Wang was out of harm’s way by about 10:00 p.m. However, not everyone was so fortunate. He said he saw seven or eight people lying on the subway station platform, and several more in the tunnel.
“I finally made it and came out alive,” Wang said, “but it’s so sad that a dozen people couldn’t make it.” The regime has said that 12 people died from the subway flooding.
Chen Han and Lin Cenxin contributed to this article.