The body of a woman was discovered in an elevator in the northwestern Chinese city of Xi’an last week after workers allegedly cut off power to the lift in January without checking to see if anyone was still inside.
The Gaoling district government said in a statement Saturday that two maintenance workers turned off the power to the elevator on Jan. 30 in a residential building after they were called to check on a glitch.
When crew members returned on March 1 for repairs they found the body of a woman inside, according to the Associated Press.
The woman, believed to be in her 40s, was identified as a resident who was living by herself. Police ruled out foul play but concluded her death was caused by gross negligence on the part of the maintenance crew in a case of involuntary manslaughter, the government said.
The Los Angeles Times identified the victim only by her surname, Wu, and that her hands had become disfigured trying to escape the elevator.
The horrific death sparked protests in the Gaoling District of the city, with hundreds of residents furious over the lax building management that contributed to the woman’s death.
“The scene was inhumane,” one building tenant said, according to the Shanghaiist. “We think she starved to death in there.”
The shocking death evoked memories of a July incident where a woman was crushed to death by an escalator in central China.
A woman was killed after being swallowed by a mall escalator when a metal platform on top of the escalator suddenly caved in. She was holding her two-year-old son at the time but managed to toss the child to safety before being killed.
Gruesome video of the incident was shared on social media.
In another incident, a 35-year-old employee of a shopping mall in Shanghai had his left leg amputated after part of the escalator he was cleaning collapsed underneath him.
Several other accidents involving escalators and elevators over the past year have led to increased scrutiny on acceptable safety standards.
The country’s Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) said in a 2015 report it “found that more than 110,000 escalators have potential safety issues of which over 26,000 have not yet been repaired,” according to the state Xinhua news agency.
“With rapid urbanization, the number of elevators and escalators has been increasing by 20 per cent every year and the trend will likely continue,” the report noted.
*With files from the Associated Press
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