Xi Demands Answers About Flood Deaths as Five Detained for Lying

(Bloomberg) — Chinese leader Xi Jinping called for a probe into flooding at a work site in the southwest that killed four people and left another 48 missing as officials are still seeking answers more than a week after the incident.

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Xi told the nation’s cabinet to send “a task force to conduct a thorough investigation into the disaster” in Jinyang county, Sichuan province, the official Xinhua News Agency reported on Wednesday.

There are indications the scale of the incident on Aug. 21 in the remote area was obscured from central government leaders in Beijing. The same Xinhua report said Premier Li Qiang issued instructions “urging prompt efforts to ascertain relevant facts and information.”

Authorities have already detained five people at a construction company on suspicion they didn’t report or lied about certain aspects of the incident, Xinhua said in a separate report. Police encountered “significant uncertainty” regarding the number of people the firm reported missing, Xinhua said.

See: China Faces Early Attack From Crop Pests After Extreme Weather

China has been hit by bouts of extreme weather this summer. That’s caused flooding in the north that left dozens dead.

The disasters have led to public anger directed at the government, largely over accusations authorities directed water toward areas of Hebei province and away from projects in and around Beijing that are important to Xi.

The weather has also sped up the spread and growth of destructive diseases and pests, posing risks to key crops including corn and rice.

China is at risk of more flooding in the coming days. The National Meteorological Center forecasts Super Typhoon Saola to make landfall in Guangdong or Fujian on Friday. It has issued an orange alert, the second-highest in its four-tier system for severe weather.

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