Beijing's mayor and a vice mayor have resigned, state media reported on Wednesday, in what is likely a routine reshuffling that comes amid public questioning of the city government's handling of rainstorms that left at least 37 dead in the capital.
The announcement came as more rain was forecast to hit Beijing and amid signs that the death toll from last weekend's rain could jump higher. The official Xinhua News Agency reported that the top official in the hardest-hit district said their fatality and injury figures were still preliminary. China Central Television showed new amateur video of the deadly flash flood that hit the rural community of Fangshan on Saturday, with pictures of a high river of brown water roiling through the small town's streets with enough force to push cars along. Xinhua said district head Qi Hong told reporters on Tuesday that “Fangshan has suffered major losses, and the numbers are still in the process of being compiled." The district's fatality figures were never separately released but incorporated in the overall city toll. The Beijing News reported online that Li Shixiang, head of the Beijing government committee set up to deal with the disaster's aftermath, told members at their first meeting Wednesday that updated information about the missing and dead would be released “in due time.” Outgoing Mayor Guo Jinlong had already been tapped for a promotion to the city's top position as Communist Party secretary, so his resignation was not unexpected. One of his vice mayors, Ji Lin, also resigned and state media reported earlier that Ji had taken up a position as head of the city's Political and Legal Committee.