Hit-run case shocks China - and the world

Last updated 10:44 18/10/2011

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A two-year-old girl who was struck by a vehicle in a hit-and-run accident in China was ignored by more than a dozen passers-by as she lay critically injured on the road.

Surveillance footage of the horrifying incident has sparked outrage and disbelief on China's hugely popular social media sites, where an anguished public debate has broken out about the state of Chinese society. 

The footage shows the young girl, named Yueyue, toddling into the path of a van outside her family's shop in a busy wholesale market in the southern Chinese city of Fosham.

The van hits the girl and momentarily stops, before the driver continues on, crushing the child again beneath his rear wheels.

What unfolds next is arguably even more shocking.

Up to 18 passers-by are seen in the footage ignoring Yueyue as she lies critically injured and bleeding on the road, with several even changing their walking path to veer around her body.

A man on a scooter steers around the toddler and looks at her body before continuing down the street, as a second van approaches and drives over the girl's legs.

Another motorcyclist applies his brakes and clearly looks at the girl, lying in a pool of blood, before driving off. The scene is repeated as rickshaws and pedestrians give her a wide berth.

It is not until seven minutes later that a street cleaner, later identified as 58-year-old Chen Xianmei, comes to the girl's aid and lifts her from the road, calling for help.

She was ignored by several shopkeepers before finally tracking down Yueyue's mother who took her to hospital.

The Shanghai Daily reported that Yueyue was in a coma in the intensive care unit of a military hospital in the city of Guangzhou following the incident on Thursday but had shown some improvement.

Her mother, Qu, has reportedly set up a blog to post updates on her daughter.

"We have received numerous phone calls expressing strong will to help us," she wrote. "We are speechless and grateful."

Doctors said she had suffered major head injuries and was breathing only with the assistance of a ventilator.

"She would not be able to survive any operations. She's very close to brain death," a spokesman for the hospital told news agency AFP.

The highly distressing surveillance footage was uploaded on the popular Youku video sharing site, and attracted more than a million views in a number of hours.

In response, one person lamented: "This society is seriously ill. Even cats and dogs shouldn't be treated so heartlessly."

Another user wrote: "Really, what is up with our society? I saw this and my heart went cold. Everyone needs to do some soul searching about ending this kind of indifference.''

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But others linked the incident to an earlier case in which a man who tried to help an elderly woman after she fell over was prosecuted, apparently because his intervention broke government rules on dealing with accident victims.

Police have detained the drivers of both vehicles involved in the incident, Xinhua news agency said.

The man who allegedly drove the second van, surnamed Jiang, was arrested about 9pm on the evening of the accident. The first van driver, named Hu, surrendered to police on Sunday afternoon.

Yueyue is believed to live with her parents and seven-year-old brother in a house near the wholesale market.

Her mother was hanging out washing upstairs when Yueyue went out with her brother to play with their friends.

-Sydney Morning Herald and agencies

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