China flood victims accuse officials of negligence
160 people drown in heavy flooding, which residents in Hebei Province, blame on government negligence as much as nature.
Residents in flood-hit areas of northern China are accusing authorities of negligence and inaction, following a disaster that killed more than 160 people in Hebei Province.
Six days since the flood destroyed the village of Daxian, residents told Al Jazeera that officials failed to warn them in time about the incoming storm.
As soldiers from the People’s Liberation Army cleared away on Tuesday all the mud and debris from the village, residents continued to grieve for their losses.
“I don’t know who I can talk to. No one listens to me,” Zhang Erqiang, father of two missing children, told Al Jazeera.
Instead of answers, Zhang was questioned by police demanding to know what he had told Al Jazeera.
“This area was cursed by nature. But man gave it a helping hand,” Al Jazeera’s Adrian Brown, reporting from Daxian, said.
Four months before the flooding, a heating company began laying giant pipes in the village. According to local residents, the dug-up dirt was dumped under a bridge, blocking the Qi Lie river.
READ MORE: Floods in China kill scores, displace tens of thousands
Villagers said they had asked officials to move the pile, but the floodwaters came before any action was taken.
On the evening before the flooding, power was cut off in Daxian as the rain poured, according to resident accounts.
As the river swelled, a few people called the local village chief to ask him what they should do.
Residents said the chief had told them not to worry, because if it was serious then officials in the nearby city of Xingtai would have contacted him.
“It seems many people here had more idea about the imminent danger they faced, than local officials did,” our correspondent said.