HONG KONG • At first, the collision of the two front-end loaders on the dusty street in China appears to be a worksite accident.
Then, as one witness murmurs in disbelief, the violent intent becomes clear.
With their buckets held high like the horns of battling beetles, the two machines repeatedly slam into each other. Another joins the fray, toppling one of the first combatants. Yet another arrives, trying to right its fallen comrade. And then even more arrive to do battle.
Some participants in Sunday's street battle in Xingtang county of Shijiazhuang, Hebei's provincial capital, carried knives and guns, according to one report.
But the most surprising weapon was the construction equipment. At least two people filmed the clash with cellphones, and the video has been widely viewed on Chinese websites, with some commenters on the microblogging platform Weibo calling it a clash of homegrown Transformers.
The actual explanation is far more prosaic: A dispute between two companies escalated into the front-end loader fight, according a statement from the Xingtang County propaganda office.
Workers in front-end loaders and SUVs from one company, the Jianwen Concrete Plant, had shown up at the Xinghua Concrete Plant intending to take over the work on a new development project, one Xinghua worker told Beijing Youth Daily.
Two Xinghua employees were injured, including a driver who was in serious condition after being shot in the chest, the paper said.
Six front-end loaders were damaged and two were toppled, the government statement said.
The case is still under investigation, it said on Monday, with no arrests announced yet.
NEW YORK TIMES