A FRESH round of torrential rain has triggered flooding and landslides across China, resulting in the deaths of at least 78 people. 91 people are still missing.
On Friday, the Ministry of Civil Affairs said that more than 400,000 people have been evacuated as homes were swept away in the floods.
The northern province of Hebei has suffered the worst damage, with 36 people dead and another 77 missing. In Xingtai, a town in the province, nine people died and 11 remain unaccounted for – some reports say up to 25 people were killed in that town alone.
Villagers in Hebei have accused the local government of not informing them ahead of time to evacuate when authorities decided to release floodwater from an upstream reservoir.
At least 72 killed, 78 missing in floods & landslides triggered by rainstorm in N China's Hebei Province pic.twitter.com/OT2VMDWqi4
— China Xinhua News (@XHNews) July 23, 2016
Local police blame a failure of a river levee for the heavy casualties. Xingtai officials denied that the opening of the reservoir went unannounced during a news conference on Saturday, and said people were warned via social media and television, reports the New York Times.
Dramatic footage and images which show the extent of the flooding have been posted on Chines social media sites and Twitter.
— Scott Barker (@ScottBarkerAU) July 23, 2016
According to China Central Television (CCTV) News, the aftermath of flooding in Hebei has affected 8.6 million people, with 298,500 people evacuated. It has also caused a total economic loss of over US$2 billion (14.7 billion yuan).
Swathes of China have been affected by particularly bad weather this summer. Just last month, 25 people were killed and over 33,000 were displaced in poor, remote regions in the south.
Many have blamed local governments for failing to put more effective drainage systems into place. Overbuilding and overpopulation has put pressure on the cities and towns, and critics have pointed towards longstanding corruption for the lack of proper, updated infrastructure.
Additional reporting by Associated Press