Authorities in central Chinese province of Henan have revised the death toll from last month’s floods to 302 as of Monday, triple the figure of 99 that was reported last week.
Vast majority of the victims were reported in the provincial capital Zhengzhou. In Zhengzhou, a city of 12 million that lies along the Yellow River, the death toll was 292, including 14 who died when a subway line was flooded. In total, 39 people died in underground areas in Zhengzhou including garages and tunnels. Images of passengers inundated by shoulder-height water went viral on Chinese social media on Line 5 of the city subway where 14 people died, while dozens of cars in a tunnel were tossed aside by the deluge, many with passengers still inside.
Over three days last month, 617.1 mm (24.3 inches) of rain fell in Zhengzhou, nearly equivalent to its annual average of 640.8 mm, causing widespread damage and disruption in a city that is a major transport and industrial hub. Of the 50 people still missing in Henan province, 47 were from Zhengzhou, local officials told a briefing on Monday. Direct economic losses in Henan reached 114.27 billion yuan ($18 billion), with more than 580,000 hectares of farmland affected. China’s official news agency reported that China’s State Council has announced to set up a team to investigate the disaster in Zhengzhou and will hold officials accountable if found to have derelicted their duty.
A large floral tribute at the subway was sealed off last week by Zhengzhou authorities, a sign of the government’s increasing sensitivity to public criticism of its handling of the disaster. Foreign journalists covering the floods were also harassed online and, on the ground, part of growing crackdowns on any negative portrayal of China.