Intolerable heat exposes ‘dead’ street vendor’s scam
A soft drink vendor’s scheme to fake his own death for financial gain was revealed after the heat in central China’s Hubei province proved too much for him to bear on Saturday, according to local authorities.
The incident occurred around 4 pm, when more than 10 men were holding the sheetcovered vendor’s “corpse” on a gurney near Jianghan Road subway station in the provincial capital of Wuhan.
They claimed that urban patrol officers had beaten the man to death and were demanding tens of thousands of yuan in compensation, a worker with the city’s urban management committee said on Monday.
More than 300 people gathered at the scene, and later, over 80 police officers were dispatched to maintain order.
The crowd dispersed two hours later, when the “dead” vendor suddenly jumped up, grabbed a bottle of water and drank it before saying, “It’s too hot. I can’t bear it anymore.”
The soft drink vendor, surnamed Han, and two others have been detained for disturbing public order.
After being detained, Han told police that urban patrol officers from the city’s Jianghan district clashed with the vendors after telling them that their stands were blocking traffic earlier in the day, asking them to leave and confiscating their mineral water and other beverages.
The No 2 Hospital of Wuhan City confirmed that some vendors and urban patrol officers sustained minor injuries in the altercation, but no one was killed.
An Internet user posted photos of the scene online, but some netizens have used them to mock the recent bout of hot weather that has affected most of the country.
Saturday’s weather report shows that the day’s high hit 36 C in Wuhan, but local residents taking independent temperature measurements recorded a high of 45 C in downtown Wuhan.
Other parts of China have been experiencing extreme heat as well, including Fujian, Hunan and Zhejiang provinces and Chongqing and Shanghai municipalities. More than 10 people across the country died of heat stroke last week.
China’s urban patrol officers, or chengguan, are often criticized for their violent approach to tackling low-level, urban and non- criminal regulation violations. Reports often appear in the media containing accusations of chengguan beating vendors and smashing their stalls.
An increasing number of children in Qingdao, Shandong province, have come down with colds or are experiencing diarrhea due to a heat wave. Doctors warned that parents should pay close attention to the food they give their children and not take them outside.