BEIJING — Chinese authorities raised Beijing’s storm death toll to 77 Thursday after the public questioned the days-old tally of 37, with some residents even compiling their own totals, in a reflection of deep mistrust of the government’s handling of the disaster.
The Beijing city government said 77 bodies of victims from Saturday’s downpour had been found in the city as of Thursday, and 66 of them have been identified. Nearly half of the victims were found in the worst-hit Fangshan district, a rural community in the city’s mountainous outskirts, the government said on its microblog.
In a rare expression of humility, Beijing’s flood and drought prevention headquarters offered condolences to the families of the victims and pledged that it would ‘‘conscientiously sum up and reflect and learn lessons from’’ the flood and improve the city’s resilience against disasters, the city government said.
Until the statement Thursday, no new death toll figures had been issued since Sunday, the day after Beijing’s biggest downpour in 61 years overwhelmed drainage systems, swamped downtown underpasses, and sent flash floods rolling through the city’s outskirts.
Officials have kept a tight lid on information, mindful that any failure to cope with the flooding could undermine the country’s leadership as it undergoes a once-a-decade transition, with Beijing city leaders a part of that reshuffling. China’s communist government has justified its one-party rule in part by delivering economic growth and maintaining stability in the face of bubbling unrest and periodic mass disasters like Saturday’s flooding.