China floods: Officials put death toll at 302 | News | DW | 02.08.2021

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China floods: Officials put death toll at 302

The death toll from recent floods in the central Henan province rose to 302 as of Monday — triple the figure that was reported last week.

Rescuers search inside the subway which was flooded following heavy rains in Zhengzhou

At least 39 were killed in underground areas alone

At least 302 people died in recent flooding in central China and 50 were still missing, officials said Monday.

Record downpours had dumped a year's worth of rain on the central Henan province in just three days, causing destruction and trapping residents in subway trains, underground car parks, and tunnels.

The figures mark a threefold increase compared to the previously announced death toll, 99.

Watch video 01:36

China's Henan province reels from devastating floods

What did officials say?

The Henan provincial government announced that 292 people were dead and 47 were missing in Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan.

Ten others died in three other cities, officials said at a news conference in Zhengzhou.

According to authorities, 189 people were killed by floods and mudslides, 54 in house collapses and 39 in underground areas. Six people died in an expressway tunnel, where 247 vehicles were removed as it was drained.

Watch video 01:56

China: Dozens killed in severe flooding

What about accountability?

Henan authorities have faced repeated calls for accountability. Social media users have criticized the government's handling of the crisis and demanded better disaster management systems.

According to Chinese media reports, the central government has set up a team to probe the disaster response and hold accountable those responsible for negligence.

However, criticism of the government's response to the disaster has not been met lightly.

Authorities removing a large floral tribute at the subway station in Zhengzhou was seen as a sign of sensitivity toward public criticism.

Flowers placed as tributes in front of a subway station in memory of flood victims

Authorities sealed off a large floral tribute at the subway in Zhengzhou

Last week, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian singled out the BBC for criticism, labeling it a "Fake News Broadcasting Company" that has "attacked and smeared China, seriously deviating from journalistic standards."

AFP news agency said some residents surrounded its journalists while reporting on a submerged traffic tunnel in Zhengzhou and forced them to delete footage.

What happened in Henan?

On July 20, record rainfall flooded Zhengzhou. The provincial capital was hit by 20 centimeters (8 inches) of rain in only one hour.

In the following days, the rains headed north, hitting Hebi, Anyang and Xinxiang in Henan, the inland county about 620 kilometers (380 miles) southwest of Beijing. 

A map showing hard-hit Zhengzhou

The disaster destroyed nearly 250,000 hectares (625,000 acres) of crops, according to officials. The estimated losses were at more than 90 billion yuan ($14 billion).

About 1.5 million people were evacuated because of the rains and flooding.

fb/aw (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters) 

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