Asia-Pacific News

Chinese woman trapped in lift found dead, sparks outcry over safety

Teh Eng Koon | Getty Images

In scenes straight from a horror movie, a Chinese woman has been been found dead a month after apparently being trapped in a malfunctioning lift.

Now the case has sparked a public outcry in the country over the everyday death traps caused by lax building management.

The 43-year-old woman, identified only by her surname Wu, was stuck between the 10th and 11th floors of her apartment building in Xi'an when the elevator broke down.

Two repairmen turned off the power to the lift on Jan. 30 without opening the doors to ascertain it was empty, then went on their Lunar New Year holidays, according to reports citing government officials.

Wu's body was discovered only on March 1, more than 30 days later, when other workers went to the building to repair the lift.

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Amid speculation that Wu, who lived alone on the 15th floor, died of dehydration or starvation, the case has prompted criticism and soul-searching in China about sloppy workmanship and societal isolation.

"That's just too terrible. Building management should bear the greatest responsibility as they were not meticulous and careful enough," a user called Mr Zhongba wrote on Weibo, China's Twitter-like social media site.

"What kind of management company is this? They have scant regard for human life! I strongly urge [authorities] to pursue criminal liability," Informer from Chengyu wrote.

Others questioned why nobody looked for Wu and why neighbors did not hear or heeded her cries.

"I thought these things only happened in the wild," wrote another Weibo user.

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Social media posts showed local residents staging a protest against the building's management company.

Local authorities said they had arrested two maintenance workers and were investigating the case.

The Xi'an case is the latest in a number of highly-publicized accidents — some fatal — involving lifts and escalators.

Elevator and escalator-related accidents killed 36 people in 2014, according to reports to Chinese quality inspection authorities, the state-run Xinhua news agency said.

Last year a woman died after falling into a faulty escalator in a mall, and in 2013 a nurse was decapitated when she stepped out of a malfunctioning lift in Shenzhen.

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