Dake Kang / AP
BEIJING – More than 300 people have died in recent flooding in central China, authorities said on Monday, three times the toll previously reported.
The Henan provincial government said 302 people have died and 50 are still missing. The vast majority of the victims were in Zhengzhou, the provincial capital, where 292 dead and 47 are missing. Ten more people have died in three other cities, officials said at a press conference in Zhengzhou.
Record-breaking precipitation flooded the city on July 20, turning the streets into rushing rivers and inundating at least part of a metro line. A video posted online showed vehicles swept away and desperate people trapped in subway cars as the waters rose. Fourteen people died in the flooding of the metro.
The previous record, announced Friday, was 99.
Authorities said 189 people were killed in floods and mudslides, 54 in house collapses and 39 in underground areas such as basements and garages, including those on metro line 5. The death toll remained at six in a motorway tunnel from which 247 vehicles were pulled out as it was emptied.
Wang Kai, Governor of Henan Province, expressed his deep condolences to the victims and sympathy to the families on behalf of the Communist Party of Henan Committee.
Government has created investigative team, state media say
The worst came after Zhengzhou was hit by 20 centimeters (8 inches) of rain in an hour from 4 p.m. on July 20, submerging the already flooded city. Children were trapped in schools and stranded people stayed at their workplaces overnight.
The rains moved north over the following days, hitting the towns of Henan, Hebi, Anyang and Xinxiang. Seven people have died and three are missing in Xinxiang, where record rains dropped more than 25 centimeters (10 inches) of water in 19 hours. Henan is an inland county about 620 kilometers (380 miles) southwest of Beijing.
Authorities said about 250,000 hectares (625,000 acres) of crops were destroyed and estimated losses at more than 90 billion yuan ($ 14 billion). About 1.5 million people were evacuated due to rains and floods.
The central government has set up an investigative team to assess the response to the disaster, summarize the lessons and hold accountable anyone found guilty of dereliction of duty, Chinese media said.