2017-08-02 08:53:48

Police in central China are investigating the mysterious case of a missing man who was found dead in the ruins of his demolished house, Sixth Tone’s sister publication The Paper reported Tuesday.

Zhu Meide, a 65-year-old widower, had disappeared from his family home in Huangshi, a city in Hubei province, on July 23. One of his relatives, surnamed Huang, told The Paper that during the family’s search for the elderly man, on-site workers had told them that they had sent Zhu away from the site before demolition began.

Yet on Sunday, Zhu’s corpse was uncovered from the rubble where his house and cowshed once stood. In an official announcement published Tuesday in a local newspaper, police said without elaborating that they had “controlled” the people responsible for the incident, and that a preliminary investigation had found the death to be a result of negligence.

The announcement added that a compensation agreement for Zhu’s property had been signed in December 2016, and that the money had been paid by the government in April of this year, the same month demolition began in the surrounding area. In May and July, Zhu signed several documents agreeing to vacate his property.

Cases of property acquisitions resulting in forced evictions, violence, and even death occasionally make headlines in China. In July 2016, a township mayor in eastern China’s Zhejiang province sustained burns after villagers set him on fire during a land dispute.

The same month, a woman’s body was found among the ruins of a demolition site in Yuelu District, in the central Chinese city of Changsha. An investigation determined that the 60-year-old woman was killed when her house was bulldozed illegally. Twenty-seven people, including the district’s Party secretary and mayor, were held responsible for her death.

Editor: Bibek Bhandari.

(Header image: A view of Zhu’s demolished home in Huangshi, Hubei province, July 30, 2017. Courtesy of the victim’s family)