China blocks flood victims from staging second day of protest

BEIJING Wed Oct 16, 2013 2:44am EDT

A man (L) paddles a makeshift raft as residents walks past a partially submerged car on a flooded street in Yuyao, Zhejiang province October 11, 2013. REUTERS/Lang Lang

A man (L) paddles a makeshift raft as residents walks past a partially submerged car on a flooded street in Yuyao, Zhejiang province October 11, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Lang Lang

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BEIJING (Reuters) - Authorities in eastern China dispatched hundreds of security officers to block a possible second day of protests on Wednesday after thousands of angry flood victims clashed with police to demand official help for the worst floods in a century.

More than 800,000 people in Yuyao in eastern Zhejiang province were affected by last week's massive floods after Typhoon Fitow hit eastern China.

On Tuesday thousands of flood victims marched in front of their city government office, criticizing what they said was ineffective relief efforts and urging the party secretary and the mayor to step down, according to accounts on microblogs.

State media said Yuyao was hit hardest in Zhejiang. The rainfall, the worst in a century, caused more than 70 percent of Yuyao to be flooded and economic losses of nearly 7 billion yuan ($1.15 billion), according to the China News Service. The local government has not released the number of casualties.

Riot police officers stood guard in Yuyao on Wednesday morning to prevent any further protests, according to photos posted by Chinese rights group, Civil Rights and Livelihood Watch. The founder of the group, Liu Feiyue, told Reuters he had received the photographs from residents in Yuyao.

Residents on Tuesday attacked the city's government office, tearing down the Communist Party's mantra, "Serve the People", mounted at the entrance of the office, according to photographs on Sina Weibo, China's version of Twitter.

Several residents were seen bleeding from the head, according to photographs on Sina.

"We strongly condemn the shameless acts by the police and riot police for using any pretext to beat people," said a microblogger from Yuyao.

State-run Yuyao Daily said in an editorial on Wednesday that residents should "express their rational demands at an appropriate time, and in a reasonable manner."

"Everyone has a duty to maintain stability, let us do more to help disaster recovery and social stability and resolutely not participate in matters that will hurt disaster rebuilding and recovery efforts and social stability," the newspaper said.

Cai Qi, head of the organization department of the party's Zhejiang provincial committee, called for residents to restrain from radical acts, adding government officials have been trying their best in disaster relief.

State media reported on Monday that a Chinese official photographed being given a piggyback by a villager while visiting flood victims in Zhejiang was sacked after the image caused public outrage online.

(Reporting by Sui-Lee Wee and Beijing Newsroom; Editing by Michael Perry)

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