World of Weibo

A horrible way to die

The cost of negligence

Shock, disgust and deep anger. These were the feelings many netizens expressed last week after it emerged a 43 year-old women from Xi’an had starved to death after being trapped in a lift for a month.

The victim, surnamed Wu, was reported to have mental health problems. She was in the elevator when maintenance men were called to look at it shortly before the Chinese New Year holiday last month. Instead of repairing the problem then, they decided to shut the lift down and return to it after the festive break.

To check the lift was empty they simply shouted down the shaft. When they got no reply, they walked away – leaving Wu trapped between floors.

When her body was discovered a month later her hands were mangled from attempts to prise the doors open and the inside cabin was covered in scratches, local media said.

“Why did the maintenance men only shout? They should have checked the cabin before leaving. Typical don’t-give-a-damn-attitude to responsibility,” wrote one outraged netizen.

“What if the person was deaf or hard of hearing? They should have physically checked the cabin,” added another.

For some, Wu’s death was reminiscent of two other tragic accidents involving escalators last year. In one, a mother in Chongqing was crushed to death after she fell into the gearing mechanism of an escalator as a metal plate that covered it gave way.

Her death sparked a nationwide review of escalator safety and for months afterwards people could be seen jumping over the plates covering the gears. Many escalators are now marked with big yellow footprint stickers saying “Tread on me, I’ve been checked”.

The cases have now become symbols of how slapdash management of public facilities can lead to greater dangers than dirty stairwells or broken lighting.“I am becoming afraid of everyday objects,” wrote one netizen. Another said: “This is terrifying. Why didn’t that lift have a working intercom system? That should be the bare minimum.”

Others focused on the fact that the woman was barely missed – she appeared to live alone and was estranged from her family. “It’s so tragic that this happened at Chinese New Year when most other people were celebrating with their family,” one netizen wrote.

“I fear turning into someone like this, someone that no one knows or cares about,” wrote another.

This week the police said that two employees with the lift maintenance company have been arrested in connection with her death.


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