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Number of deaths in 2012 flood 'hidden'

By Wu Yong in Shenyang | China Daily | Updated: 2016-12-15 07:24

A county government in Liaoning province was found to have hidden the real number of deaths after a heavy flood in 2012, local authorities announced on Wednesday.

An investigation team has been sent to Xiuyan county to uncover the facts in the case.

The job of the team includes verifying the number of deaths and clarifying the disaster conditions. A local watchdog said that the people found to be responsible would be punished according to the law.

Northeast China's Liaoning suffered heavy rainfall on Aug 3 and 4 in 2012 due to Typhoon Damrey. The website of Xiuyan county announced five deaths and three missing persons on Aug 6, 2012.

However, local villagers recently mailed media a list of names, ages and addresses of those said to have died, which states that 38 people lost their lives. The media has verified the deaths of 27 of the people on the list.

The State Council asked governments to release disaster information timely and accurately. Governments at or above the county level have the responsibility to release the information of casualties caused by natural disasters. People found to have published false information and violated the law shall be prosecuted for criminal responsibility.

Peng Zongchao, vice-principal of Tsinghua University's School of Public Administration, said that local governments usually publish the actual number of deaths in order to apply for funding.

But once the number of deaths surpasses 30, an incident is then defined as a particularly significant natural disaster and local governments may become worried about accountability and choose to submit false information, Peng said.

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