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5th Official Suspended after Deadly Floods in Hebei

A fifth government official in north China's Hebei Province has been suspended for dereliction of duty in the response to deadly floods.


Torrential rain and floods in Hebei have left at least 130 people dead and 110 others missing, and direct economic losses were estimated to be 16.4 billion yuan ($2.45 billion).


Public outrage 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 Communist Party of China (CPC) chief of Wangkuai Township, which is in the economic development zone of Xingtai, the worst-hit area, has been suspended, the CPC Xingtai Municipal Committee announced.


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 July 24, the CPC Hebei Provincial Committee suspended four officials -- including two Party officials in Xingtai, a chief engineer with Shijiazhuang municipal bureau of transport and a deputy head of Jingxing County -- for dereliction of duty when dealing with the fatal floods.


Dong Xiaoyu, mayor of Xingtai, apologized on July 23 for the inadequate storm response, which has been linked to 25 deaths and 13 missing people.


He said the government had underestimated the amount of rain, and its late and inaccurate disaster assessment had been a major failing.


Despite the heavy casualties, there was also a miraculous survival.


Yang Zhenfei, 41, was rescued after staying afloat for 20 kilometers by grabbing onto a log.


"It was like God gave me a helping hand, he sent the log to me," recalled the resident of Yongnian County, Handan City.


(Xinhua News Agency July 25, 2016)

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