Beijing - The front page for today’s Beijing Morning News shows a candlelight vigil against a black backdrop. The headline reads: “The death count from the July 21st rainstorm has risen to 77.”
Sixty-six bodies have now been identified; they are still waiting to confirm the identities of the remaining eleven.The front page then says “may they rest in peace,” and printed the names of all sixty-six identified dead.
According to the China Daily, five of the sixty-six perished in the line of duty. Of the remaining 61 civilian victims, 36 were men and 25 were women: 46 drowned, 5 were electrocuted, 3 were killed by collapsing buildings, 2 were struck by flood debris, 2 died from trauma-induced shock, 2 were killed by falling objects and 1 person was hit by lightning.
This was the heaviest rain Beijing has seen in six decades. Homes have been flooded and people are seeking temporary shelter in tents pitched in public squares. One of these people is Zhang Junfeng, a 28-year-old saleswoman in a supermarket in Beijing, who told the China Daily: “The flood rushed into the basement so quickly that you had hardly any time to clear away any of your stuff…I only had time to grab my mobile phone and my purse as the water rose to my chest in just a few minutes…We hope the government can find us a place to live, instead of the tents.”
The China Daily says the delay in reaching this final death count was due to the massive amount of debris which made the search more difficult. Meanwhile, the Australian newspaper Sky News suggested the government was forced to raise the official death toll to 77 after the public questioned the days-old tally of 37. Sky News reported that some residents mistrusted official figures so deeply that they were attempting to calculate their own figures.