Woman in China Discovered Dead After Being Stuck in an Elevator for a Month

The elevator was full of markings of the victim's desperate attempts to get out.  (Image:  Gideon Tsang via   flickr/ CC BY-SA 2.0)
The elevator was full of markings of the victim's desperate attempts to get out. (Image: Gideon Tsang via flickr/ CC BY-SA 2.0)

A woman has been found dead inside an elevator in China, with the horrific scene being discovered by service workers. Investigators stated that her hands were mangled, apparently from attempts to free herself.

“The scene was inhumane, we think she starved to death in there,” one of the residents, Xiao Lin, told reporters. Another resident, surnamed Wang, said that the elevator was full of markings of the victim’s desperate attempts to get out.

The elevator maintenance crew was returning to work after a month-long break for the Chinese New Year holidays. When they opened the broken elevator doors, the decomposing body of the woman was found. It is believed she had been trapped inside since late January and had starved to death.

The victim is believed to have been in her late thirties to early forties, and was identified only by her surname, Wu. The grisly incident occurred in the western city of Xi’an, which is renowned as the home of China’s Terracotta Warriors.

It has also sparked outrage over the negligence of the elevator repair company and the building’s management office. The property managers told the Beijing Youth Daily, that the elevator was sent to the first floor, and then taken out of service after the workers had “confirmed” that no one was inside.

However, police investigators said the workers had simply shouted to check if there was anyone inside and had not opened the elevator to perform a visual check, news magazine Caixin reported.

Authorities involved in the case said that it was “gross negligence” on the part of the elevator maintenance company and there has been at least one “responsible person” detained, according to the magazine. The case has been classified as a negligent homicide.

But one question remains — how did the woman remain trapped for so long with neither her neighbors nor her family realizing. Local media reports have portrayed the victim as mentally ill, and stated that her family believed she had just gotten lost somewhere. She had been reported as missing, but no further steps were taken to determine her whereabouts.

China has poor records on workplace safety as proper safety procedures and practices are routinely ignored. A resident of the apartment complex, surnamed Ding, told Sohu News that the building management service was poor, and routinely ignored residents’ complaints about the frequently broken elevators and other matters.

“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.”

After the discovery of the woman’s body, residents staged a protest against the building management. Local officials are taking steps to replace the building management, according to Caixin.

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