Death toll from flood rains reaches 154 and climbing
Torrential rains that swept through China have killed at least 154 people and left 124 missing, officials said yesterday.
Most of the casualties were reported from a northern province where villagers complained about lack of warning before a deadly flash flood.
The rains, which began last Monday, have flooded streams, triggered landslides and destroyed houses across the country.
Most of the fatalities were reported in the northern province of Hebei, where the provincial Department of Civil Affairs said 114 people were killed and 111 others were missing.
More than 300,000 people were evacuated in Hebei, and the province made another round of appropriations of tents, blankets, rain boots and generators, the department said.
The Xingtai village of Daxian was swamped by a flash flood last Wednesday as residents were asleep. Eight people, including three children, were killed and another was missing in the flood.
But the tragedy did not surface until last Friday, when accounts, purportedly by local residents, began surfacing on Chinese social media of angry villagers blocking roads, accusing the local authorities of failing to notify them in time for evacuation when an upstream reservoir discharged the floodwaters.
The online posts - accompanied by photos of drowned victims - also accused local officials of covering up the tragedy by lying about having no deaths in the area. State media later confirmed that a local official had said last Wednesday afternoon that the flash flood caused no fatalities.
Some of the accompanying photos showed images of apparently drowned children lying in mud, their bodies swollen and their skin pale. In another photo, local villagers and an official knelt before each other, with state media reporting that the official was trying to console the grieving family members.
Although removed from social media by yesterday Saturday morning - apparently by censors - the postings had already caused a national uproar, with members of the public demanding accountability from local authorities.