Beijing announced in an online report a revised total death and missing persons toll after it reviewed an investigation of the devastating flooding that hit a central Chinese province last July.
In its 46-page report, China’s top government body ̶ the State Council ̶ elaborated on the severity of the rainstorms, calling them “torrential rains that are rare in history,” while concluding that the flooding was caused by both the extreme weather and negligence of local officials and construction staffers.
Zhengzhou, the capital city of the province, was soon flooded, with the water level rising to waist height by the afternoon. Despite the flooding, the subway system and underground tunnels remained in operation.
According to the State Council report, top leaders of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang, gave “important instructions” and 16 other state leaders also gave instructions and “made express demands” for flood control and disaster relief during the crisis last year.
It went on to blame local officials for their “negligence and dereliction of duty” when they failed to act with awareness to the risks, which Beijing said was in part responsible for to “the casualties in the subway and the tunnel that were not supposed to take place.”
It went further to say that local officials at different levels “delayed to report and concealed death tolls and missing people at different stages,” with a total of 139 deaths or missing persons being concealed or delayed for reporting. The city of Zhengzhou concealed 75 cases, county-level authorities concealed 49, and township or neighborhood communities concealed 15, the report said.
Death Toll QuestionedIn July 2021, an article was published on Secret China, an independent overseas Chinese language media, which analyzed the daily operation data of Zhengzhou’s subway company.
The State Council’s final death toll for subway Line 5 and the tunnel remain the same as that reported by local governments last year—14 deaths in the subway and six deaths in the tunnel.
“If the real data, which could be huge, is to be released, those who are to be held accountable will not be limited to the CCP’s secretary of Zhengzhou City,” Tang said. “Henan provincial leaders and even the Chinese premier himself will most likely be held accountable [for the disaster].”
According to the press release on the council’s official website, eight people, including staffers in charge of construction at the subway line and the highway tunnel, have been arrested by the police “suspected of violations of law and crimes” over the Henan flooding disaster. Meanwhile, 89 government officials are being investigated by the CCP’s disciplinary committee.