A new round of heavy rain swept through large parts of China over the past week has caused heavy casualties, leaving at least 114 people dead and 111 others missing by Saturday evening in Hebei provinces. In Xingtai city, 400km south of capital Beijing, at least 25 people were killed and another 13 missing, including many children, in a torrential flooding triggered by the biggest rainfall recorded since 1996, according to the provincial civil affairs department. The disaster occurred just days after President Xi Jinping stressed on Wednesday the importance of prompt issuance of early warnings in flood-prone areas and warned officials whose dereliction of duty results in heavy casualties must be held accountable. Floodwaters burst river banks and submerged at least 12 villages, authorities in Xingtai said yesterday. In Daxian village, one of the worst-hit, where at least seven people, including three school kids, were killed and another two kids still missing, the Beijing News reported. China braces for more floods as torrential rains lash central and southern areas Over one million people in 21 counties and districts in the city were affected, forcing nearly 90,000 people from their homes and damaged about 19,000 houses. About 9 million people in Hebei were affected. Authorities in Xingtai initially denied any casualties. The news of heavy death toll began to emerge only after thousands of local residents took to the street on Friday, protesting against the alleged belated disaster warnings and ineffective rescue efforts. According to a video posted online and mainland media reports, disgruntled villagers blocked a main road for a few hours, accusing local government of failing to alert them before the flooding hit and attempting to cover up the casualties. Hundreds of policemen were sent to the scene to put down the protest. “I was woke up by huge noises at around 2am early Wednesday morning and found my house partially submerged in floodwaters,” a Daxian villager surnamed Wu told Caixin magazine. The floodwaters quickly rose by two metres within a few minutes and he had to climb to the roof to wait for rescue. “Unlike the floods in 1996 when everyone was successfully evacuated, I did not get any warnings for such a huge flooding,” Wu claimed. Other residents from the villages along the Qili river, which were hit hard by the flooding, told similar stories and said water had reached chest-level before an alarm was raised. Authorities in Xingtai dismissed the allegation at a briefing yesterday, insisting that they had tried their best to alert and evacuate local residents. Instead, they blamed the unprecedented torrential rains and said the fact that the river narrowed significant near Daxian village was also to blame for such heavy casualties. “Our early warnings and evacuation plan was already in place and we had issued warnings at about 1:40 am,” said Qiu Wenshuang, a deputy mayor of Xingtai yesterday. The protest video and photos showing destroyed homes and debris submerged in a tide of brown mud have sparked online fury, with many questioning local authorities’ apparent failure to send out warnings and carry out evacuation effectively to save more lives. Plane and train chaos as Beijing and Tianjin lashed by torrential rain Xinhua said the floodwater killed another 26 people and left 34 missing in Jingxing county in the provincial capital of Shijiazhuang city. Hebei provincial government has sent an inspection team to Xingtai to investigate into the allegations and help local authorities with disaster relief effort, People’s Daily reported. Meteorological authorities in Hebei said torrential rains were expected in Xingtai and other disaster-hit areas in the next two days. In the central province of Henan, 15 people were killed and eight were missing after thunderstorms and strong winds forced 7.2 million people from their homes and damaged 18,000 houses.