In the Chinese city of Xuzhou on Sept. 8, a wrecking crew knocked down a house with a 92-year-old woman still inside.
The elderly resident was buried alive as her house was bulldozed, reports the Daily Mail. She survived, but sustained a broken leg in the process.
The house is in an area that is undergoing a development project involving the construction of 1,600 houses, reports People’s Daily Online, says the Daily Mail. Reportedly, the development project also includes a destruction project involving some houses that are already there.
According to those who destroyed the victim’s house, it was a case of mistaken identity: they actually meant to demolish the house next door instead.
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However, the victim’s family claims that they were given no warning about the demolition plans.
The Zhao County Housing Authority were allegedly given authorization to purchase the land in question and relocate the residents living there. The woman had agreed to relocate, according to reports, but the family had applied for a delay due to her health.
An official from the demolition company admitted that the woman’s house was bulldozed by mistake, and the case has been turned over to police for investigation.
The bulldozer driver has been arrested, reports the Daily Mail, though specifics of the charges have not been revealed.
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Destroying old buildings to make way for new development is very common in China.
Described by The Atlantic as a “headlong rush to modernity,” about 600 historic neighborhoods are destroyed each year in Beijing alone, displacing some half-million residents. “Seemingly overnight, the city was transformed from a warren of Ming dynasty-era neighborhoods into an ultramodern urban sprawl, pocked with gleaming office towers and traversed by eight-lane highways,” the magazine reports.
Inadequate compensation to the former residents of the demolished neighborhoods leaves some displaced families unable to afford a new home, forcing them to move into “shoddy high-rise communities."