XINGTAI, China, July 23 (UPI) — More than 170 people have been killed and scores more are missing after flooding across China due to heavy rain over the past week, officials said.
The worst hit area was Hebei province, which surrounds the capital Beijing, where the Qili River overflowed its banks. The death toll in the entire province stands at 114, according to state-run media. The number dead in the industrial city Xingtai was particularly acute after the Qili overflowed in the middle of the night, sending a wall of water that buried homes as people slept.
Officials said 25 people were killed. Videos circulating on social media showed parents retrieving the bodies of young children from the floodwaters and The Beijing News reported five of those dead were children between the ages of 3 and 10.
City officials in Xingtai said the city received the heaviest rain since August 1996. In an eight-hour period Tuesday, the region received what would typically be an entire year’s worth of rainfall in the arid northern Chinese province.
Though the worst of the flooding happened Tuesday and Wednesday, government officials have been slow to acknowledge the full scale of the destruction publicly, or update death counts in the wake of the disaster.
State-run media put the total cost of the damage at $2 billion, including to property and farmland where crops were devastated.
Meteorologists said more thunderstorms are in the forecast in the coming days.