Girl's death triggers riot over road safety

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 04 December, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 04 December, 2011, 12:00am


Hundreds of people in Xian, Shaanxi province, overturned police and government cars in a show of anger on Friday night over the death of a 10-year-old schoolgirl in a truck accident, according to Xinhua.

Citing eyewitnesses, Xinhua said an agitated crowd massed in downtown Xian, attacking police officers and overturning four cars, including two police vehicles, after officers took more than two hours to reach Huanchengxi Road, where Xu Yueqi had been run over by a construction truck.

People were reportedly angry about the authorities' repeated delayed reactions to serious traffic accidents and their consistent failure to reduce the dangers posed by construction vehicles.

According to China News Service, Xu's father had picked the girl up from Fenghe Road primary school and they were heading to his home on an electric bike when they were hit by the truck at about 5.40pm.

An ambulance did not arrive until 9.40pm to take Xu's father to hospital.

The clash broke out not long after police arrived, and more than 700 officers had to be called in to disperse the crowd.

Traffic remained at a standstill until the girl's body was removed at around 10.30pm, and most of the crowd left at around 11pm.

The site has since been cordoned off and the truck driver detained for questioning, Xinhua said.

Xian is notorious for its traffic problems, and Xu is the latest fatality in a long list of people killed in accidents involving construction trucks.

Huashang Daily reported yesterday that such accidents claimed 46 lives in Xian from January to October. And, according to traffic police, there were more than 12,000 incidents of trucks speeding and running red lights in July alone.

The girl's grandmother said Xu dreamed of becoming an English teacher, but her life was crushed under the truck's giant wheels, according to China News Service.

'Her father picked her up from her mother's place just so she could be closer to her English class the next morning. If we would have known the outcome, we really shouldn't have picked her up,' she said.

Witnesses reportedly said the speeding construction truck dragged Xu and her father under its wheels for several metres before stopping. Her father was able to climb out, but Xu was apparently not breathing.

'Her father just sat on the pavement, weeping, unable to utter a single word and looking dazed,' a witness said. 'These truck drivers are so ruthless. Why doesn't the government control them?'

The protest was the latest in a spate of social unrest on the mainland in recent months. In October, hundreds of indignant small-factory owners and their workers rioted in Huzhou , Zhejiang , protesting a rise in local levies.

In September, residents blocked a road and laid siege to a police station in Wukan village, Guangdong, to protest the alleged sale of a pig farm.