Seven men accused of illegally demolishing a 200-year-old bridge to make way for a real estate project have been detained by the Guangdong police. One suspect remains at large.
Among those held were executives from the companies that planned and carried out the demolition in late April at Longchuan county in Heyuan city. The rest were construction workers and one contractor, the Southern Metropolis Daily reported.
The developer Guangdong Changhong wanted to make space for a riverside plaza as part of a commercial property estate that went on sale in February. Demolition operations were prepared in April and contracted to a Longchuan company for 160,000 yuan (HK$201,000).
By the early morning of May 1, residents were shocked to find that workers had bulldozed the Yangxi Bridge and dumped the debris into the river before hastily leaving the scene, leaving some of the work unfinished.
The 50-metre-long, 4.5-metre-wide stone arch bridge – which stood 7.3 metres high, above the water – was declared a protected relic by the county government in 2010. It was built diring the Jiaqing period of the Qing dynasty.
The police arrested the suspects in succession between May 7 and last Thursday, May 29 including the 52-year-old deputy general manager of the Guangdong Changhong development company and a 40-year-old Longchuan company branch manager who lives in Heyuan.
After public indignation over the loss of the relic, Longchuan county authorities rushed to salvage the broken pieces of the bridge and clear the river of debris.
The daily said local authorities were planning to keep what was left of the bridge in storage while they draft a restoration proposal by mid-August.
They are hoping to fix the bridge by the end of November.