Macabre deaths dismissed as accident

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 23 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 23 May, 2012, 12:00am


A district government in Daqing of northeast Heilongjiang province has tried to distance itself from a tragedy in which the operator of an earth mover and the owner of a pig farm were killed in a macabre incident last week.

The next day, Heilongjiang Television showed pictures of a man, whose body was up against the loader, crushed at the waist by the arm of the digger. The victim was identified as Li Baolin, a 55-year-old farmer in Saertu district. Another picture shows the head and the arm of the digger operator, identified by the local government yesterday as 34-year-old Liu Jifeng, between the driver's cabin and the arm.

Both were killed instantly.

In an interview with Heilongjiang TV, Li's wife, Yu Shuyun, said the machine was there to demolish her home and piggery, which housed 100 pigs.

She said she had knelt on the ground to beg the driver to give her one or two days to move out and evacuate the animals. But the operator, who said he was hired by urban management officers with the city's Urban Administrative and Law Enforcement Bureau, would not listen and began tearing down a brick wall.

She then saw her husband crushed by the arm of the machine. He immediately vomited blood and his face turned green.

She said the driver leaned out to see what had happened and was crushed between the backhoe arm and the driver's cabin.

The broadcaster also showed Yu's neighbours supporting her account of what happened.

But a statement by the Saertu district government dismissed the tragedy as an 'ordinary accident' caused by the driver not being careful, and the government denied being connected with forced demolitions.

The statement claimed that demolition workers and Li's family had signed an agreement to delay the demolition for two days, and that Liu had moved the backhoe away from Li's house.

According to the statement, Li had started talking to Liu, who stuck his head out when the two began to quarrel. Liu's hip struck the controls, causing the arm to drop suddenly.

The statement identified Liu, the backhoe's owner and operator, as a farmer.

But the government's explanation failed to convince the public.

'Despite evidence [to the contrary], the government still said it had nothing to do with a forced demolition?' a microblog post on Sina said.