County official removed amid public doubts after death of woman at construction project

08:29, January 07, 2011      

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A county official was removed for failure to properly supervise a construction project which led to a woman' s death in Zhengyang County, central China's Henan Province, said a spokesman with the county government on Thursday.

On the morning of January 3, Li Li, a 38-year-old female resident of the county, was crushed under a bulldozer while attempting to stop construction of a river canal project near her residence. In spite of being rescued, Li died from her injuries, said the spokesman.

Min Huaimin, director of the County Water Conservation Bureau, was removed from his position for his failure to supervise, leading to the accident, which triggered a public concern as people regarded the accident as yet another case of unsafe construction methods.

A video shot by a witness using a mobile phone quickly spread on the Internet and aroused a public outcry about the violent incident and the indifference of workers after Li's fatal accident.

In the video, Li slipped in the mud as she was rushing to stop the bulldozer and was crushed by it. Many residents shouted to stop the equipment. However, the bulldozer went on working at the scene.

According to the witness, the construction organization had brought about two to three hundred people to guard on the construction site to threaten residents who protested the conservation project. And three bulldozer were working that day.

The conflict started between the original plan as presented to the public and the actual construction work done on the site.

"The workers did not follow the previous project plan. They dug the canal at a place just five meters away from our houses, making our life quite dangerous and inconvenient," said a female resident surnamed Lei.

"By allowing their construction to continue, the canal will be so close to us. We are so afraid that our children would slip down to the river by accident," she said.

"Therefore, about eight women rushed to the bulldozers to stop the construction and Li Li was among them. However, the work continued and even the bulldozer that crushed Li continued and we shouted to stop them," said Fu Jin, a resident who lived near the project and witnessed the incident.

Li Li was a mother of two children and, herself, was a laid-off worker who ran a breakfast stall in the residential region near the accident site.

As the local residents said, there were several conflicts between the residents and the workers since the project began on December 20, 2010. The county government has organized an investigation team to reach an overall conclusion about the fatal accident and console the relatives of Li.

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