Beijing flood death toll more than doubles to 77


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

Chinese authorities have more than doubled the official death toll from last weekend's Beijing flood, raising it from 37 to 77.

The public had questioned the days-old tally, with some residents even compiling their own totals because of their deep mistrust of the government and how it handled the disaster, according to the Associated Press. Beijing's municipal government said of the 77 bodies found, 66 had been identified, five of who were local officials who died while helping with rescue efforts.

Spokesman Pan Anjun said another sharp increase in the death toll was not likely, because the search for missing people was coming to an end, reported CNN. He blamed the delay in releasing the new death toll on the time it took to recover and identify the bodies.

The rainfall that caused last weekend's flooding was the heaviest Beijing has seen in 60 years, according to BBC News. Major roads were flooded and more than 500 flights were canceled, leaving thousands stranded at the city's main airport. More than 65,000 people were evacuated.

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On Wednesday, Qi Hong, chief of Beijing's southwestern Fangshan district, which was the hardest hit, apologized to the 800,000 people affected by the floods in the area, CNN said.

"We moved 65,000 people to the highlands. But there were still many flushed away by the flood," Qi said in a news conference broadcast on state-run CCTV. "As the district chief, I should apologize to my fellow citizens."