A new investigation by Chinese authorities has tripled the number of deaths following catastrophic rains that flooded cities in Henan province. The new figure recorded 302 deaths on Monday (2) – last week there had been 99 confirmed deaths.
In Zhengzhou, a city of 12 million people along the Yellow River, 292 people were killed, including 14 people who died in the flooding of a metro station. In total, at least 39 people have died in the city’s underground areas, including garages and tunnels.
For three days last month, it rained near what was expected in Zhengzhou year-round, causing widespread damage to the city, a major logistics hub in China, and sparking debate over the country’s readiness to do so. in the face of extreme weather events. .
According to the authorities, around 50 people are still missing in Henan province, including 47 in Zhengzhou. The economic loss is estimated at 114 billion yuan (90.7 billion reais), with more than 580,000 hectares of agricultural land affected by the rains.
China’s State Council, the body responsible for running the government’s current affairs and economy, said it would form a team to investigate the Zhengzhou disaster and hold the authorities to account. it turned out he had been careless.
The death toll and missing from the rains is the worst in China since a flood that triggered a landslide in Zhouqu, Gansu province, in 2010. At that time, the tragedy left more than 1,800 people dead and disappearances.
Last week, residents of Zhengzhou held a memorial to the victims, complete with flowers and handwritten messages, on the steps of Shakoulu subway station.
According to local media, the widow of one of those killed in the metro sued the operator of the rail network for negligence – despite the weather warnings, the metro station was not closed like the bus terminals, which may have contributed to a greater number of people concentrated in the underground environment and therefore more vulnerable to flooding.
Foreign media reporters were greeted with hostility by residents of Zhengzhou, accused of working to portray China in a negative light.
A team from the AFP news agency was surrounded by a group of 20 people who demanded the removal of the images taken on the spot. When asked about this, Chinese diplomat spokesman Zhao Lijian justified the behavior of the population and attributed it to “the outrage of the Chinese people” with the “false information” that “some Western media” were leaking. regularly.
According to a report by the South China Morning Post, meteorologists predicted rains last month but issued warnings for the wrong time and the wrong place. The Henan Weather Service said authorities had been warned of the risk of extreme weather events a week in advance, but the forecast was that the heavier rains would hit Jiaozuo City and not Zhengzhou, and that it should be two days after the date on which it actually took place.
When the red alert was issued in the provincial capital, most residents had already left their homes for their daily activities. With the bus service stopped, a larger contingent than expected opted for the metro, which contributed to the tragedy in the wagons.
Also according to the SCMP, China faces a shortage of weather forecasting capacity in the poorest cities and rural areas. Cities like Beijing and Shanghai are better equipped, but Zhengzhou, for example, is on the list of weather “blind spots”.
Added to this is the fact that, according to analysts, China has experienced very rapid growth that did not take into account the threat of climate change. Moreover, just like the heatwaves with record temperatures in the United States and Canada and the catastrophic floods recorded in countries such as Germany, Holland and Belgium, the rains on Chinese territory are directly linked to a context of global warming.
According to experts, rising temperatures around the world generate a build-up of energy in the atmosphere which is dissipated through extreme weather events, which tend to become increasingly powerful and frequent.