Beijing has punished almost 100 officials and company managers for dereliction of duty around catastrophic floods that hit Henan province and killed hundreds of people last July, state news agency Xinhua said on Friday.
Xu Liyi, secretary of the Communist Party Committee in Henan’s provincial capital of Zhengzhou, was removed from his post and Zhengzhou vice-mayor Wu Fumin was also dismissed.
They were among 89 local officials punished by the central government for what Beijing called poor handling of the emergency response to the floods, Xinhua said, citing the conclusions of an investigation led by the central government in Beijing.
The government has called the Henan floods the worst since China began keeping meteorological records. From July 17 to 23, 398 people died or went missing in Henan province, according to the Xinhua report, published on the central government’s website on Friday.
“There was a problem of late reporting and concealment in the reporting of disaster information, and negligence… from lower-level party committees, governments and relevant departments,” the report said.
Company managers responsible for the construction of Zhengzhou’s infrastructure, including a subway line where 14 people drowned, an episode that was widely discussed on Chinese social media, were among 11 people arrested or detained as a result of the central government investigation.
Henan, a populous province double the size of Austria whose capital Zhengzhou is a city of 12 million people, also incurred direct economic losses amounting to 120.6 billion yuan (US$19 billion), Xinhua reported.
In China, regional and municipal officials are frequently demoted by the central government in response to the poor handling of manmade and natural disasters.
Officials in the city of Wuhan and Hubei province were similarly punished for the initial outbreak of Covid-19 that killed 4,512 in the province, according to official government statistics.