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Flood toll hits 164, another official sacked

Xinhua, July 26, 2016 Adjust font size:

A villager moves her belongings out of the flooded house in Xingtai City in north China’s Hebei Province yesterday. [Xinhua]

Heavy rain across north and northeast China last week has left 164 people dead and 125 missing, according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs.

As of yesterday morning, 10 provincial-level regions had been battered by the bad weather.

In the hardest hit provinces of Henan and Hebei, 514,000 people have been displaced and nearly 125,000 people are in urgent need of basic living assistance.

Some 126,000 houses have collapsed and 344,000 houses were damaged to varying degrees. Floods also destroyed 1.18 million hectares of crops.

Total direct economic losses have been estimated at 31.14 billion yuan (US$4.7 billion).

Police have been told to prepare for more rescue and relief missions, said Meng Jianzhu, head of the Commission for Political and Legal Affairs of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, during a police inspection in Wuhan, capital of central China's Hubei Province.

Meng praised the police's bravery and loyalty, but warned that the situation remained dangerous and the task ahead tough.

Police should also focus on maintaining law and order in the disaster-hit regions, he said.

Two police officers were killed and a dozen injured during rescue and relief missions.

Meanwhile, a fifth government official in Hebei has been suspended for dereliction of duty in the response to deadly floods.

Public anger is mounting as many say they were not informed of the impending floods, and that officials had failed to organize evacuation before the flood crested.

Guo Tongheng, deputy Party chief of Wangkuai Township, which is in the economic development zone of Xingtai — the worst-hit area, has been suspended, the Party's Xingtai committee announced yesterday.

Guo will be subjected to an accountability investigation and could face further punishment.

The committee also warned that those officials who turn off their cell phones, leave their post without permission or disobey orders or delay relief efforts would also be punished.

On Sunday, Hebei suspended four officials, including two Party officials in Xingtai, for dereliction of duty when dealing with the fatal floods.