NEWS RELEASE: Seven Xinjiang project workers killed under severe weather conditions
November 29, 2022
Seven Xinjiang construction project workers were killed on the way home under a severe blizzard. China Labor Watch gained contact with the family of one of the deceased workers and a local informed source.
Accordingly, due to increased COVID cases in the Atlay Prefecture, Xinjiang, construction workers for a national highway project in Atlay petitioned their company for a return to their home in Fujian province in early October. However, due to the authorities’ COVID prevention policies, the workers were not permitted to go home until November 26, when they finally received permission. However, the workers were trapped en route home in a -28°C blizzard. Local rescue personnel found the eight workers and transferred them to the hospital. Of the eight trapped workers, seven were dead, and one survived and was transferred to the ICU unit.
Correspondence with a local informed source confirmed this incident, and informed CLW that the workers only gained the permission to leave for their mild-weathered hometown due to the lack of cold weather protection at the construction site. Accordingly, the local government implemented measures to cover up the story.
Li Qiang, the executive director of China Labor Watch, commented that the workers wouldn’t have passed if they had been able to gain permission to go home in October. He further commented that the authorities should rethink the restrictive COVID measures.
China Labor Watch contacted the news media on November 27, and provided said media with some relevant sources, since we do not want this incident buried.
Xinhua News covered the issue on November 29, but they still needed to detail the conditions under which these workers were trapped under severe weather.
Image: An emergency petition from a family member of the victims
To the Government of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region:
This is a life-threatening request for help!!! Since the outbreak of COVID in Atlay Prefecture in early October, Kalaxilike highway project management office, located in the No. 217 National Highway, was said to have reported to upper management regarding the issue of having workers return to their home community. But the community administrative authorities had refused to provide said permission until November 26, 2022.
But the unexpected snowstorm on November 26 led to a traffic accident, killing seven workers. The only worker alive has been transferred to the intensive care unit and is under critical condition. Family members of the workers are all living in Fuqing city, Fujian Province. They have not been able to purchase flight tickets to Xinjiang because of the COVID policy. Therefore, we hereby urge the Government of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region to offer the necessary support for the eight workers’ family members and help them prepare for funerals. All of the above mentioned writings are verifiable, and I’m willing to undertake all legal responsibilities for this request.
Petitioner: [Name redacted]
Tel: [phone number redacted] (For the sake of preserving immediate communication, please do not call this number unless there is an urgent situation)