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SHAKE AND BLOW
Anger erupts over government handling of China flood
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) July 23, 2016


Four officials suspended over deadly China flooding
Beijing (AFP) July 24, 2016 - Four Chinese officials have been suspended following devastating floods that left more than 200 dead and missing and provoked widespread outrage over an alleged cover-up by the authorities, state media reported Sunday.

Torrential rains lashed the north this week, driving over 300,000 people from their homes and leaving hundreds of thousands more trapped as waters rose.

But a flash flood near the town of Xingtai in Hebei province provoked particular outrage after locals accused officials of failing to warn them of the impending deluge -- and trying to cover up the cause of the disaster.

The alleged mistake left at least 25 dead and 13 missing, and public anger over the situation mounted after pictures of the corpses of drowned children being pulled from the muddy floodwaters circulated online.

In the aftermath, residents voiced suspicions that the sudden flood, which struck early Wednesday while villagers slept, was man-made -- the result of a release of water from a local reservoir, rather than the breaking of a levee in a nearby river, as officials claimed.

Hebei's Communist Party committee has now announced it has suspended two Xingtai town officials, as well as a chief engineer from the provincial capital and a deputy county head, for "dereliction of duty" the official Xinhua news agency reported.

The four officials will be "subjected to accountability investigations and could face further punishment", it said.

Xingtai's mayor also apologised for the town's response to the disaster.

Earlier in the week, local deputy Communist Party secretary Wang Qingfei had drawn ire for suggesting there had been "no casualties" in the flood, the Beijing News said Saturday.

Public scepticism towards officials is common following disasters in China, as authorities seek to control information and their lack of openness can raise doubts about their trustworthiness.

Flooding is not uncommon during the summer monsoon season in northern China, but rains have been unusually heavy across the country this summer.

Beijing and surrounding areas were expected to receive more heavy rains Sunday night, Xinhua said.

Heavy downpours have already wreaked havoc in central and southern China, flooding several major cities and causing over 200 deaths, state media has said.

Anger erupted on Saturday over floods in northern China that left more than 200 people dead or missing, with media and internet users accusing officials of negligence.

Torrential rain has lashed the north this week, and a flashflood near the town of Xingtai in Hebei province, which left at least 23 dead and 13 missing, has become a focus of the public's dissatisfaction with the government's response to the disaster.

Angry villagers have blamed local officials for failing to warn them of the impending deluge, with Hebei Satellite TV showing one resident saying water had reached chest-level before an alarm was raised.

Residents have also voiced suspicions that the sudden flood, which struck early Wednesday while villagers slept, was man-made -- the result of a release of water from a local reservoir, rather than the breaking of a levee in a nearby river, as officials have claimed.

Photos and videos of the aftermath showed the small, floating corpses of drowned children being pulled from the muddy floodwaters, as well as telephone poles toppled and homes completely collapsed.

Local deputy Communist Party secretary Wang Qingfei drew ire for earlier comments that there had been "no casualties" in the flood, the Beijing News said.

A video of him kneeling before wailing relatives who lost family members spread on social media, showing three distraught women clutching at his arm while asking how many had died.

Other online footage showed locals clashing with police, with one video showing police lining up to form a road blockade that the person filming claimed was intended to stop residents from travelling to Beijing to report the incident.

Public scepticism towards officials is common following disasters in China, as authorities seek to control information and their lack of openness can raise doubts about their trustworthiness.

"Not to notify villagers about the Xingtai flood wasn't just an abandonment of the officials' duty -- it was essentially manslaughter," wrote one incensed user on China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo microblog on Saturday.

As of Saturday afternoon, rainstorms had left 105 dead and 104 missing in Hebei, with nearly 310,000 people relocated and more than 52,000 homes collapsed, the province's civil affairs bureau said on an official social media account.

Some 250,000 people were unable to leave the city of Tianmen in the central province, official news agency Xinhua reported the local government as saying.

More than 500 soldiers and 62 speedboats had been sent to alleviate the situation in the city, the news service said.

Flooding is not uncommon during the summer monsoon season in northern China, but rains have been unusually heavy across the country this summer.

Heavy downpours have already wreaked havoc in central and southern China, flooding several major cities and causing over 200 deaths, state media has said.

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Previous Report
SHAKE AND BLOW
China rain leaves one dead, 34 missing: report
Beijing (AFP) July 20, 2016
At least one person was killed and 34 missing as torrential rain pounded northern China, state media reported Wednesday. Heavy downpours struck Hebei province which surrounds Beijing, causing all major rivers to breach their banks and damaging 11 dams and two hydropower stations, the official Xinhua news agency reported. Nearly 68,000 residents had been relocated as the provincial land r ... read more


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