Beijing mayor quits amid flood scandal


A woman walks in a flooded street during heavy rain in Beijing on July 21, 2012.

Beijing Mayor Guo Jinlong has quit amid public questioning of the city government's handling of floods that left 37 dead.

Vice Mayor Ji Lin has also left his post in what observers said is likely a routine reshuffling at city hall, reported the Associated Press. But the announcement of the resignations of Beijing's top two city officials came just as more rain was forecast to hit the capital, giving signs that the death toll from last weekend's flooding could increase.

While the government insisted the resignations were not related to the criticism it received over its handling of the heavy rainfall, comments about Guo and Ji's departures on China's social media site Sina Weibo were being blocked and deleted, according to CNN. State media said the former mayor stepped down following his election as secretary of the Beijing Municipal Committee of the Communist Party of China, but gave no reason for the resignation of the vice mayor.

More from GlobalPost: Beijing floods death toll rises to 37

In wake of the changes at city hall, Wang Anshun has been appointed new vice mayor and acting mayor of Beijing, reported The Wall Street Journal. Wang has served as vice party chief of Beijing since March 2007.

On Sunday, state media put the official death toll from the Beijing floods at 37, according to CNN. But speculations has swirled that the figure could be much higher. Government spokeswoman Wang Hui told reporters Tuesday that the true death toll was not being concealed and that updated figures would be released when they were known.

"I want to say I hope everyone will not speculate that the Beijing government is hiding the death toll," said Wang.