Thousands of Chinese Flood Victims Block Highway After Typhoon

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A man shops for food in a flooded supermarket after heavy rains caused by Typhoon Fitow in Yuyao city, Zhejiang province, Oct. 9, 2013.
A man shops for food in a flooded supermarket after heavy rains caused by Typhoon Fitow in Yuyao city, Zhejiang province, Oct. 9, 2013.

Typhoon victims on China's east coast have hit out at the local government's rescue operation, saying their town has been flooded for days and that they have received no relief supplies, sparking an angry standoff with riot police.

Several thousand residents of Tudian township, near Zhejiang's Tongxiang city, blocked the Yanhu highway on Thursday, saying they had had no help from the government, four days after their homes and businesses were submerged in the wake of Typhoon Fitow, which made landfall earlier this week.

"The villagers massed together and blocked the highway at the slipway to the expressway," a Tudian resident surnamed Li told RFA early on Friday. "There has been no sort of relief now for several days."

"The riot police were sent in; it was quite a spectacle. The place was packed with a huge number of people, maybe not 10,000, but several thousand," he said.

"The villagers were all very angry that the township government and the municipal government had paid no attention to them."

A highway in Zhejiang's Yuyao city was blocked in a similar protest by angry residents on Wednesday.

"The waters just keep rising, and we can't leave our homes," one Yuyao resident surnamed Fang said in an interview on Thursday. "Four days after the typhoon hit the coast, the flooding in our village is still very severe; it's even inside the buildings, and a lot of things have been soaked."

"A lot of people couldn't get through when they tried to call for rescue ... We couldn't get through to the government, and they didn't send us any supplies," she said.

Typhoon fallout

China's state-run media reported that 10 people have died and five others are missing in Wenzhou city since massive storms in the trail of Typhoon Fitow wreaked havoc in Zhejiang on Monday.

Among the dead, eight died from electric shocks, including a family of three, while two men died after their car plunged into a river, Xinhua news agency quoted official sources as saying.

The typhoon triggered heavy rain and burst river banks in the densely populated region, flooding urban areas and sparking region-wide power failures.

More than 250,000 households lost their power supply, and local authorities have estimated the repair bill at around 12.4 billion yuan (U.S. $2 billion), the agency said.

"We have had no power for 48 hours," Li said. "People are blaming the leaders in Tongxiang ... but no journalists have come here to report it."

"Tudian township is totally flooded, but they say the villagers must deal with it themselves."

'Self-rescuing area'

An official surnamed Huang in charge of disaster relief supplies at the Tongxiang municipal government offices confirmed that Tudian had been left to fend for itself.

"Tudian has been designated a self-rescuing area," Huang said. "The government has sent some basic supplies like water tanks."

Asked if the supplies were sufficient for the needs of local residents, Huang said: "I would have to go and check whether it was enough ... But the way things are now, Tudian township has been told to organize their own disaster relief effort."

An officer who answered the phone at the Tudian township police station said he hadn't heard about the protest.

But he confirmed that no rescue workers had come to the town.

"No, they haven't," he said. "We can't pump the water out here."

A duty officer at the Tudian township government offices said the "entire township" was involved in the rescue effort. "The waters are receding, but they haven't gone yet," the official said.

But Li said very little appeared to be happening on the ground.

"We can't even go out and buy groceries. We are just sitting at home doing nothing," he said.

Reported by Xin Lin for RFA's Mandarin Service, and by Wen Yuqing for the Cantonese Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.





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