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It soon emerged that an internet celebrity surnamed Zhang, also known as “Dabao” in Liuzhou and with over 230,000 followers on Douyin, was live-streaming from a rescue boat and accepting cash tips online.

Zhang wore a life jacket and used beauty filters during her broadcast.

Zhang shows no remorse for her behavior during the floods, which were among the worst in recent times. Photo: Douyin

During her live stream, she constantly focused the camera on herself and not on the rescue efforts and the flooding.

It is unclear how long Zhang streamed live or how much tips she received from viewers.

After complaints from observers, the rescue team asked them to leave the boat.

However, the controversy continued.

On July 7, the Blue Sky Rescue Team issued a statement saying the influencer was invited by their captain, surnamed Zhao, “to document the rescue process and efforts.”

However, they discovered that the influencer's social media account was private and did not show the large-scale rescue scenes they had hoped for.

At this point, Zhang “decided” to leave the boat.

“The information she received during the live stream has no connection to our organization,” the rescue team added.

The influencer told Zonglan News that she was friends with members of the rescue team and confirmed that she had been invited to livestream the operation.

As the controversy raged, Zhang claimed it was technically difficult to disable the live stream's tipping feature while she was on the boat, adding that she had to point the camera at herself to avoid violating the platform.

“I was holding the phone with one hand and holding on to the handrail with the other. The speed of the boat made it impossible for me to turn off the tipping feature while ensuring my personal safety,” she said.

“The live stream only lasted half an hour and I barely got any tips,” Zhang added.

As the floods engulfed landmarks in the area, Zhang kept the live stream camera trained on himself. Photo: Douyin

The influencer, who did not apologize, also said: “People can say whatever they want. If you do nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear.”

Her stance has sparked anger online.

“The rescue scene became a show where the influencer wants to make money from tips, which is really despicable!” said one online observer.

Another added: “The problem is that if we put one more person on the lifeboat, one person less will be rescued! The rescue team was unprofessional.”

“A rescue scene is not a live stream room. Please show some respect for the rescue operation,” said a third.

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