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Chinese Officials Arrested for Concealing True Scale of Flood Victims | China

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Officials in a Chinese province deliberately understated or concealed 139 deaths from last year’s devastating flood disaster, the country’s central government has said, amid arrests of some of those involved.

Record-breaking rainstorms hit central China’s Henan Province between July 17 and July 23, overflowing reservoirs, smashing riverbanks and overwhelming public transport systems and roads in major cities. In the city of Zhengzhou, more than 600 mm of rain, nearly equivalent to an average year, fell in just three days, flooding subway stations and an intercity tunnel.

At least 12 people have died at a Zhengzhou metro station after tunnels flooded, with alarming footage on social media showing water levels inside carriages reaching head height for passengers. Six others were reported at the time to have died in a road tunnel where more than 100 cars were trapped and submerged.

China’s top government body, the State Council, said it had reviewed an investigation into the disaster and determined that local and provincial officials and authorities were “guilty of negligence and dereliction of duty, in particular considering held casualties in the subway and the tunnel which were not supposed to take place”.

In the weeks following the floods, the death toll stood at 99 for several days before authorities announced a death toll of 302 and 50 missing.

But in a statement posted online late Friday, the state board accused city officials of “deliberately obstructing and withholding reports of up to 139 cases.” Officials were supposed to report daily but had “covered up or delayed reporting of those killed and missing in the disaster”, he said.

The report gave a final official death toll of 398, more than 95% of which occurred in the city of Zhengzhou. He did not give details on the number of new cases.

At a separate press conference, investigation officials said the cover-up cases included 75 in Zhengzhou city, 49 in counties and 15 in townships.

The head of the investigation said 23 people died in mudslides and floods in Xingyang, and five in an explosion caused by floods at Dengfeng power station. Local party and government officials “failed to honestly report the true cause of death and illegally used post-disaster reconstruction grant funds to compensate families for the deaths,” the official said.

“Although the disaster was triggered by extreme weather conditions, many problems and shortcomings were exposed,” he said.

“Weaknesses also exist to varying degrees in many parts of the country, [the investigation] noted, calling for careful attention and strong action to rectify them.

Eight officials were arrested by the police and 89 others punished, he added.

The flooding of the station and the road tunnel were “accidents of liability”, the disaster being exacerbated by the delay in the construction of urban drainage infrastructure and the weak links in the systems of emergency management, early warning and intervention.

“They failed to take primary responsibility for flood prevention and disaster relief, and seriously lacked awareness of the risks of extreme weather disasters, according to investigators, who also pointed to issues such as poor practices. formalities for the love of formalities and bureaucracy.”

The Guojiazui Reservoir overflow was an incident against the law, the report said, but did not provide details.

The statement, posted in English on the state council’s website, is a rare admission of failure by officials.

In the aftermath of the disaster, it was widely suspected that the death toll was higher than expected, as residents posted information about their missing relatives online and authorities blocked access to disaster sites, including for memorials. temporary.

Chinese Officials Arrested for Concealing True Scale of Flood Victims | China

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