Chinese officials arrested for concealing deaths in flood disaster

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Officials in a Chinese province deliberately underreported or concealed 139 deaths from last years devastating flood disaster, the countrys central government has said, amid arrests of some of those involved, The Guardian reported.

Record-breaking rainstorms hit Henan province in central China between 17 and 23 July, overflowing reservoirs, breaching riverbanks, and overwhelming public transport systems and roads in major cities.

In the city of Zhengzhou, more than 600 mm of rain, equivalent almost to an average year, fell in just three days, flooding metro stations and a cross-city tunnel, the report said.

At least 12 died in a Zhengzhou metro station after the tunnels flooded, with alarming footage on social media showing the water level inside carriages reaching passengers’ head-height.

Another six were reported at the time to have died in a road tunnel where more than 100 cars were trapped and submerged.

China’s highest government body, the state council, said it had reviewed an investigation into the disaster, and determined local and provincial officials and authorities to be “guilty of negligence and dereliction of duty, especially considering the casualties in the subway and the tunnel that were not supposed to take place”, the Guardian report said.

But in a statement posted online late on Friday, the state council accused city officials of having “deliberately impeded and withheld reports of up to 139 cases”.

The officials were supposed to make daily reports but had “concealed or delayed the reporting of those killed and missing in the disaster”.

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