Torrential rains have inundated central China, paralysing several cities and causing millions of dollars in damage.

In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, vehicles pass through floodwaters in Zhengzhou in central China's Henan Province on Tuesday, July 20, 2021.
In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, vehicles pass through floodwaters in Zhengzhou in central China's Henan Province on Tuesday, July 20, 2021. (AP)

At least 33 people died and eight are still missing in severe flooding since Tuesday across central China's Henan Province, according to officials.

The already drenched city of Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan province, was hit by 20 centimetres (8 inches) of rain from 4 to 5 pm on Tuesday alone, the official Xinhua News Agency said, citing the Henan weather agency.

The torrent of rain turned streets into rapidly flowing rivers and inundated subways stations and cars in Zhengzhou.

Videos posted online showed entire neighbourhoods covered in waist-deep water and vehicles floating in the muddy mire.

Transport and work have been disrupted throughout the province, with rain turning streets into rapidly flowing rivers, washing away cars and rising into people’s homes.

Across the province, at least 33 people died and eight others are missing, while more than three million people have been affected by the floods this time, state broadcaster CCTV reported.

Direct economic loss is estimated to be more than $83 million (540 million yuan), CCTV said.

'Extremely severe'

As river embankments were breached in record downpours across Henan province, President Xi Jinping described the situation as "extremely severe" with flood control measures entering a "critical stage", state media reported on Wednesday.

Around 200,000 residents were evacuated in Zhengzhou, local government officials said, as soldiers led rescue efforts in the city of over 10 million people which saw the equivalent of a year's average rain dumped on it in just three days.

People look out at cars sitting in floodwaters after heavy rains hit the city of Zhengzhou in China's central Henan province on July 21, 2021. STR / AFP
People look out at cars sitting in floodwaters after heavy rains hit the city of Zhengzhou in China's central Henan province on July 21, 2021. STR / AFP (AFP)

The rainfall in the region was the heaviest since record-keeping began 60 years ago, coming as scientists say climate change is worsening flooding around the world, alongside other increasingly extreme weather patterns.

READ MORE: Death toll of landslide in China rises to 20 with 25 people still missing

Rainstorms submerged Zhengzhou's metro late Tuesday, killing 12 people and injuring five, while city officials said hundreds were rescued from the subway.

Residents, holding umbrellas amid heavy rainfall, wade through floodwaters on a road in Zhengzhou, Henan province.
Residents, holding umbrellas amid heavy rainfall, wade through floodwaters on a road in Zhengzhou, Henan province. (Reuters)

Rescuers cut open the roof of the coach to pull people to safety, local media reported.

At least four were killed in nearby Gongyi city where houses and walls have collapsed, the official Xinhua news agency said, adding that rainfall had caused multiple landslides.

Blasts dam to divert floods

China's military has blasted a dam to release floodwaters.

The dam operation was carried out late on Tuesday night in the city of Luoyang.

READ MORE: Cities in central China flooded as river banks burst amid rains

Another seven people were reported missing, provincial officials said at a news conference. 

China routinely experiences floods during the summer, but the growth of cities and conversion of farmland into subdivisions has worsened the impact of such events.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies