On July 20, 2021, floods in Zhengzhou, Henan, left 380 people dead and missing. July 20 marked the first anniversary of the floods in Zhengzhou, Henan, China. Although no official commemoration was held and state-run media did not recall the tragedy, many Zhengzhou citizens laid flowers near the subway station of Zhengzhou Metro Line 5 and the Jingguang Road tunnel.
But authorities are wary of the practice. On social media, images and videos of tributes were removed or blocked.
Several flower shop owners told the BBC that they were questioned by the authorities when delivering flowers, and some bouquets were taken away shortly after they were placed.
On Weibo, many Chinese residents also expressed their condolences. Some posted under the topic “HenanZhengzhou720HeavyRain 1st Anniversary.” The topic received more than 20,000 retweets, but all the pictures were turned into exclamation marks with gray patterns.
One netizen said: “There’s not even a sound from the official media.”
Some people reported on Weibo, “At Shakou Road Station of Zhengzhou Metro Line 5, people in white stopped the crowd from offering flowers.”
Some netizens in Zhengzhou also posted on Weibo that the flower shop owner called and said that all flower shops in Zhengzhou were not allowed to sell flowers to those who tried to mourn 720. All those who ordered flowers would be called one by one to confirm.
This netizen satirized the authorities’ approach as “being far-sighted and planning, but unfortunately, it wasn’t last year.”
On the evening of July 20 last year, the one-hour rainfall in Zhengzhou reached 201.9 mm, breaking the extreme value of hourly rainfall in China. The Kangzhuang Reservoir in Zhengzhou suddenly released floods without warning.
As a result, the authorities failed to respond to the catastrophe in time and then hid the number of deaths as a report of the State Council investigating Zhengzhou.
Shakou Road Station is a station on Line 5 of the Zhengzhou Metro. The large amount of rainwater poured into the subway tunnel, resulting in many passengers being trapped and calling for help in the still-running subway cars. According to authorities, 14 people were killed and five injured in the incident alone.
According to China’s State Council, the flooding left 398 people dead or missing, including 380 in Zhengzhou.
The State Council investigation team later determined that, despite the weather conditions, many of the incidents were “responsible incidents,” with inadequate responses and errors, and that local officials concealed the number of fatalities.