A hotel in a central Chinese city devastated by once-in-a-lifetime flooding has been fined $100,000 after it hiked its prices to take advantage of visitors trapped by the deadly conditions.
Tourists complained the Xian Hotel at Zhengzhou's high-speed rail station increased its room prices to close to 3000 yuan ($628) as they searched for rooms following the shutdown of all transport out of the flooded city, state media reports.
Video uploaded to Chinese social media site Weibo appears to show the front desk quoting the inflated price to potential guests.
The matter was swiftly investigated by the Zhengzhou Market Supervision Bureau and the hotel was found guilty of price-hiking, according to the Global Times.
It's controlling company Henan Deyuexuan Hotel Management Co was issued a 500,000 yuan ($100,000) fine.
The hotel apologised over the move, saying it will cooperate with authorities over the matter, while it offered free accomodation to those who had fallen victim to the increase.
The hotel's behaviour prompted a wave of anger on Weibo with the story being viewed more than 200 million times.
"They have no conscience, they should be punished," one person wrote.
"This is behaviour of the wicked," another said.
Several users said it was unfathomable someone would want to make money from a fatal disaster when the rest of the nation is rallying together and providing much-needed donations to the city.
Many called for visitors to the city to boycott the hotel.
China floods: Death toll rises to 33
On Thursday the death toll from the floods in Henan province had risen to 33, including at least 12 who died while trapped in a flooded Zhengzhou subway.
A further eight remain missing.
More cities were inundated and crops destroyed as the severe weather spread northwards, with the official Xinhua news agency reporting direct economic losses of 1.22 billion yuan ($189 million).
In Zhengzhou, where the bad weather reached a peak on Tuesday, the skies had cleared although floodwaters were still at waist height, or higher, with entire streets underwater in many areas.
Rescue teams used rubber rafts to ferry residents to safety, while others waded through the water carrying belongings above their heads or waited on half-submerged cars to be picked up.
Another group of people was carried through the floodwaters on a digger truck.
One group of 15 volunteers from a construction firm based in Sichuan province were using a boat to transport residents who had been trapped in a high-rise condominium.
"We bring out the elderly, pregnant women and children first," said one of the volunteers.
"Some of them don't want to come out if they have food," another rescuer said.
"Because when they do come out, there's no place for them to go. But those without food would come out willingly."
By Thursday, close to 6,000 soldiers and 148 vehicles and vessels had been sent to the province by the army.
China's Ministry of Finance on Wednesday earmarked 100 million yuan ($20 million) for disaster relief.
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