Where did the water flow? An in-depth investigation into the causes of waterlogging in the North Jingguang Road Tunnel

Country/area: China

Organisation: The Paper (澎湃新闻)

Organisation size: Big

Publication date: 22/11/2021

Credit: Zhang Zehong, Long Hui, Duan Yanchao, Wang Yu, Wu Yinfang, Zhao Jiasheng, He Kai, Ge Mingning, Jiang Yong, He Xiuduo


Zhang Zehong, Long Hui: pitching story; writing; video post-production

Duan Yanchao, He Kai, Ge Mingning: conducting field interviews

Wang Yu, Long Hui: graphic design

Wu Yinfang, Zhao Jiasheng: video post-production

Jiang Yong: colorist

He Xiuduo: voiceover

Project description:

On July 20, 2021, Zhengzhou (the capital city of Henan Province, China), was hit by a once-in-a-millennium rainstorm. The Jingguang North Road Tunnel, the city’s main road, was severely affected: 300,000 cubic meters of floodwater poured in, killing 6 people and drowning 247 vehicles. Was it natural or man-made?

This video is the result of our two-month investigation. We collected as much information as possible, including videos taken by car DVR, academic papers, field interviews, satellite maps, car speed measurements…, and finally figured out the hidden dangers and negligence of the flood control and drainage facilities of the tunnel.

Impact reached:

After the video was released, it attracted widespread attention on major Chinese Internet platforms, and the video reached 300,000 views.

Techniques/technologies used:

In the video production, we used a lot of Adobe’s creative tools: Illustrator and Photoshop for the graphic design, After Effects for the animation part, and Premiere Pro for the video editing.

We also used many other tools to collect information. We got the satellite map and the 3D elevation simulation which showed the topography of Zhengzhou from Mapbox. We requested the data of real-time road conditions from Tencent Map and attached them to the map on Tencent Map’s open platform so that the information could be transformed in Adobe After Effects. In addition, we also used C4D to display the 3D structure of the tunnel.

What was the hardest part of this project?

When the floodwaters subsided, Zhengzhou was filled with sorrow. The 300,000 cubic meters of floodwater that poured into the Jingguang North Road Tunnel was not unexpected. As early as 10 years ago, the Zhengzhou Municipal Engineering Survey and Design Institute had already pointed out the hidden dangers of the tunnel in a published paper. But preventing potential disasters has never been on the agenda. We overcame a lot of resistance before launching the investigation. We reviewed papers published in recent years, made field visits to the tunnel, and launched an in-depth investigation into what had happened on the day of the disaster. We eventually gathered a great deal of useful information.

But it was a challenge to present the scattered information effectively. We finally decided to combine satellite maps with photos and videos of the disaster site posted on social media to present the dense information to the audience visually. We think it is the charm of investigative reporting in the age of social media.

What can others learn from this project?

When covering complex topics, a combination of graphics, video, audio, maps, and design may offer great help. It can demonstrate the issue in a multifaceted way and may help the readers to understand the whole story better.

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