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Beijing remembers victims one week after storm

BEIJING -- A small group of people laid down white chrysanthemums and lit candles Saturday in Beijing to honor those who died in the storm that ravaged Beijing one week ago, killing at least 77.

The tribute took place under a railway bridge in central Beijing where a motorist drowned. Mourners also placed a plaque with the names of identified victims.

The police peacefully dispersed the crowd after about 20 minutes, after it swelled with dozens of media members and blocked a lane on a major road.

A 27-year-old man held up a sign calling for transparency and accountability from the government. He declined to give his name.

“Yes, I am afraid,” the man said, when asked if he feared retribution for his public act. “But someone has to do it. I must have the conscience to act, and government officials should have a conscience.”

Local resident Chen Qilin said he was there to remember the dead. He says the deaths “are related to the lack of action by the government.”

The gathering was in response to an online call, and Guangqumen — the suggested location for the memorial — was a banned search term on the popular Chinese microblogging site Sina Weibo.

Days after the storm, the city government updated the death toll to 77 from 37. Residents have questioned the delay, the quality of infrastructure in the fast-growing capital, and the government's handling of the floods and rescue work.

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