Seventy-two year-old Li Guirong did not have happy start to the new year.
Just before midnight on Monday, Li and hundreds of other villagers from Pingdingshan county’s Bailou village, China’s southeastern Henan province, were left homeless after wrecking crews reduced their houses to rubble.
Bailou's villagers had refused what they claimed was unfair compensation from a county housing developer looking to begin an urban development project in their village, Dahe News reported  on Thursday.
According to Li, power to her house was cut at around 10pm on Monday evening. Shortly after, she heard the roar of heavy machinery as wrecking balls began tearing through the walls of her neighbours' homes.
In sub-zero temperatures, villagers were then taken by vans to a hotel about 16 kilometres away as the demolitions continued. They were brought back about an hour later.
“I cried in the car and asked why they demolished my house, they told me to go to the village committee if I had anything to ask,” said Li, in an interview with Dahe.
The village party secretary was said to be the one in charge of the demolition operation, the report said.
Wang Qin, Li’s son, rushed home after receiving a call from his weeping mother as she was being carried away.
Wang said they had been harassed many times in the past and had a brick thrown through their window.
The total area of the family's home was about 340 square metres. But Wang said the developer was only willing to compensate up to 220 square metres.
“They were only offering me a compensation of a few hundred yuan per square metre when my house could sell for about 3,000 yuan [HK$3,730] per square metre,” said Wang, according to Dahe. “That is why I had always refused.”
Reporters at the scene on Tuesday morning described the village as a “ruin” while Li and other villagers salvaged clothing, stoves, food and personal items from the rubble. They set up tents and slept on top of piles of crushed concrete, bricks and debris.
When reached for comment, village party secretary Liu Guodong said he knew about the incident. But he refused to give an interview citing a "lack of permission" from relevant departments.