(Bloomberg) -- Local government officials underreported the number of people who died or went missing during severe flooding in central Henan province last July, China’s cabinet said, following a months-long investigation into the disaster.
Officials in Henan either concealed or delayed the recording of 139 such cases, the State Council, China’s top government body, said in a report posted on its website late Friday. The final toll from the disaster was 398, the report showed.
That compares with 302 confirmed deaths and 50 missing people in August, when China’s State Council launched a probe into the disaster after the toll surged from 99 to 302 in just three days, prompting local residents to question if the city government had underreported casualties. At the time, the central government said that it will “hold anyone responsible for dereliction of duty.”
Nearly a year’s worth of rainfall inundated the provincial capital Zhengzhou in late July, leading to landslides, collapsed buildings and the flooding of underground spaces including subway stations. The city of 10 million had 380 dead or missing, according to Friday’s report -- accounting for the majority of the casualties across Henan, a hub for agricultural and food production as well as heavy industry.
Read More: China orders probe into Henan floods
Officials in Zhengzhou, who were supposed to provide daily updates on the number of casualties, only reported a substantial portion of the cases after repeated requests from central and provincial authorities, according to the report. The problems uncovered by the report will be transferred to the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the State Council said.
Following the investigation into the deadly floods, Zhengzhou’s former party secretary Xu Liyi was removed from his post, the official People’s Daily reported Saturday.
The floods and its aftermath became a source of tension between China and the West, after the provincial branch of the Communist Youth League, an official arm of the ruling party, used social media to urge members of the public to confront a BBC reporter over his coverage of the disaster.
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