Chinese police have arrested a young couple who buried an old woman alive in the mistaken belief she was dead after their car hit the 68-year-old, according to a report.
The couple, who had been at an all-night karaoke session, hit the woman while driving at night in the eastern province of Zhejiang last month, the official China Daily newspaper said.
"A witness said he heard someone crying and saw an elderly woman lying on the ground near (the car)," it cited a police officer as saying. "A man and a woman got out and put the elderly woman in the car, saying they would send her to hospital."
But, worried about being arrested for drunk driving and causing the accident and believing she was no longer alive, they buried her near the side of the road, the report added.
However, when police later found the woman's body they discovered she had still been alive when she was buried, and had then suffocated to death, the paper said.
"It's certain the woman was not dead when buried," a public security bureau official told China Daily on Wednesday. "Legal medical experts detected particles identical to those in the surrounding soil in her lungs, which indicates she was still breathing."
However he added police were still investigating the circumstances of the case. "Preliminary judgment of the cause of death is brain injury by the impact from the car and asphyxia," he said.
The story has been widely discussed on China's popular Twitter-like service Weibo, where it has ignited uproar for what some called the immorality of modern Chinese society.
"Such things show that our society really has huge problems it is not facing," wrote one user.
"People of China, how have you come to this?" wrote another.
China's economic boom and the growing disparity between the rich and poor have made changing social values a contentious topic, with some lamenting what they see as materialism and a get-rich-quick attitude replacing public morals.
Last year, graphic video footage of a two-year-old child run over by a van and ignored by passersby in southern China sparked similar anger.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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