Chinese Woman Starved To Death, Trapped In An Elevator For A Month

The remains of a Chinese woman were recently found by maintenance men after she had starved to death, trapped in an out-of-service elevator for a month.

The elevator maintenance men in Xi’an, China had taken a month-long break for the Chinese New Year. Reportedly, the men had taken the elevator out of service, leaving it on the first floor of an apartment building in the Gaoling district, after allegedly “confirming” there was no one inside. However, no visual inspection was made of the elevator, and it turned out the woman in question was still inside at the time.

As reported by the Mirror Online, on return to work after their break for the Chinese New Year, the elevator maintenance men made a gruesome discovery. When they opened the elevator, inside was the woman, who had starved to death after being trapped there since late January. Reportedly, her hands were mangled from her desperate attempts to get out of the stopped elevator cab.

The Chinese woman, who is believed to be in her late thirties or early forties, was identified in the Chinese media only by her surname, Wu. She reportedly lived alone in the building, but residents in the area questioned how she could have been trapped in the elevator for so long without her family or the neighbors being alerted to her disappearance.

According to local media reports, the Chinese woman was described as mentally ill and her family had believed she had merely gotten lost. The family apparently did report her as missing, but didn’t take any further steps to find their lost relative.

Xi’an in western China is well known as the home of the famed Terracotta Warriors. However, now that city is in an outrage over the apparent negligence of both the building’s management office and the elevator maintenance company in question, leading to the tragic death of the Chinese woman.

Reportedly, after the woman’s body was found, residents staged a protest against the management of the building. Reportedly local officials are now taking steps to replace the building management.

As reported by the Sydney Morning Herald, authorities in the city say the incident involved “gross negligence” on the part of the elevator maintenance company and reportedly at least one person has been taken into custody over the incident, which has been described as a “negligent homicide.”

While a month seems like a long time to take a break, reportedly many businesses in China close down over the Chinese New Year holiday. While officially the holiday lasts around a week, many workers take more time off before and after the celebrations.

While the elevator maintenance workers say they confirmed there was no one inside the elevator when they shut it down, police investigators have established that the workers merely shouted to check if there was anyone inside and when there was no response, they simply shut it down and left the building. They didn’t make any kind of visual inspection.

According to a resident of the apartment complex, known only by the surname Ding, the building management service was poor and residents’ complaints about broken elevators and other matters were often ignored.

The resident said, “There’s now a shadow across my heart, it’s scary and it gives me shivers to pass by” that part of the building. “To think of this happening in one’s own building.”

The recent case of the Chinese woman in Xi’an recalls a tragic escalator death last summer in the central Chinese city of Jingzhou, which was also reportedly related to maintenance issues. In that incident, a 30-year-old Chinese woman was reportedly “eaten alive” when she stepped on to a loose metal plate at the top of an escalator in a local shopping mall.

Reportedly, that Chinese woman was fortunately able to push her son to safety at the last moment as the plate collapsed, pulling her into the gears.

[Photo via Flickr by Gideon Tsang/CC BY-S.A. 2.0]