Security tightened in disaster-hit Yuyao after clashes over relief efforts

Angry residents clash with riot police over insufficient relief efforts following Typhoon Fitow

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 October, 2013, 10:06am
UPDATED : Thursday, 17 October, 2013, 8:48pm

Security has been tightened in a city in coastal Zhejiang province after thousands of local residents clashed with police over insufficient disaster relief efforts following Typhoon Fitow.

On Tuesday, an estimated 3,000 to 4,000 residents gathered outside the municipal government building in Yuyao, a city of about one million people that is an hour away from the provincial capital Hangzhou, and removed the “Serve the People” motto engraved at the building entrance, according to an eyewitness. The sign in the calligraphy of Mao Zedong is commonly found at government buildings throughout China.

By the evening, the square had been cordoned off by riot police, the witness said. Photos shared online showed hundreds of riot police clashing with demonstrators. Some demonstrators appeared to have head wounds.

Cai Qi, a provincial Communist Party official, called on residents to exercise restraint on Tuesday.

A day earlier, the Nanjing Military command had sent 4,800 troops from the First Group Army to Yuyao to assist disaster relief efforts.

Typhoon Fitow slammed into Zhejiang province last week, leaving at least ten people dead, thousands homeless and tens of thousands without power and fresh water supplies.

The provincial government estimated that 12.4 billion yuan of economic damage had been caused by the tropical storm. Over the last days, Yuyao residents shared photos of corpses floating in the city’s flooded streets.

A local resident surnamed Zhu told the South China Morning Post he knew of 57 people detained in Yuyao on Tuesday for sharing reports of the situation in the city on their microblogs.

Zhu, who posted updates himself, said he was questioned and released after he agreed to delete his online posts.

“The residents should know they can’t use violence,” he told the Post by telephone. “But the government should know they also can’t just pull out the batons when dealing with their demands.”

Video: Thousands protest against lack of disaster relief after Typhoon Fitow in Yuyao