BEIJING • A woman in China's Xian city is believed to have starved to death after being trapped inside the lift of an apartment block for a month, reported Chinese media.
Her corpse was discovered on March 1 when lift maintenance workers returned to work after a long Chinese New Year break.
"Her hands were distorted… there were scratches on the wall, it was horrible," a resident who lived in the same building told Beijing Times. Two lift servicemen directly responsible for the incident have been arrested, the Gaoling district government said.
The lift broke down between the 10th and 11th floors of the apartment block on Jan 30.
According to the South China Morning Post, the maintenance crew knocked on its doors to check if anyone was inside.
Hearing no response, they cut off the power supply and told residents to use the other lift in the building, said the newspaper.
When the servicemen returned from their Chinese New Year break to fix the problem on March 1, they found a woman's body inside the faulty lift.
Investigators said that when the corpse was found, the hands were mangled - apparently due to the woman's futile attempts to pry open the lift doors.
There were also scratch marks all over the interior of the lift.
The gruesome incident has triggered outrage over the apparent negligence of the lift maintenance company and the building's management office, according to Chinese website NetEase.
The case has been classified as a negligent homicide.
The victim lived alone and was believed to be in her late 30s or early 40s. She was identified by her surname Wu.
Questions remained over how the woman in the lift could have remained trapped for so long without anyone noticing it, but her neighbours said they did not hear any unusual noises from the lift during the period.
Residents of the apartment complex have staged a protest against their building's management company.
There has been a spate of accidents involving poorly-maintained escalators and malfunctioning lifts across China in the past year.
Last July, a Chinese mother in central Hubei's Jingzhou city was crushed to death - just after she thrust her son to safety- when part of an escalator in a shopping mall collapsed under them.
In the same month, a 24-year-old woman was killed in a lift mishap in Hangzhou city after the lift suddenly moved upwards as she was getting off on the 16th floor.