Fifteen families who had been evacuated from their flats returned only to find that their homes were no longer there.
Yang Zhonghe, 46, who has been working for the Tianfu Machinery and Tools Factory since 2003, was the first to discover the demolition. "I went back home to get some clean clothes," he said, "but all I found was a block of debris."
Late last month, factory executives destroyed 15 houses in Wangjiaba, Anyue County, without notifying the residents, who had been temporarily staying in a hotel in order to avoid the flood. The block of flats was home to 40 people.
Heavy rainfall started on July 16, and the water level in the factory-employee houses quickly rose to 1 meter. The residents were relocated to a government-arranged hotel.
Tianfu Machinery and Tools Factory executive Cai Minggen ordered the demolition at midnight on July 18.
"The flood water is 1 meter deep, and the foundation [of the house] was no longer stable," said Cai, explaining his decision to demolish the buildings. "If the houses fall apart, I'll be responsible. So I found someone to demolish them."
A janitor of a neighborhood factory confirmed that the block was intentionally destroyed. "I saw a big vehicle booming at about 3 a.m. on the 18th," the janitor said. "I asked them what they were doing. They said they were there to clear the flood water."
Another nearby resident reported hearing "loud sounds of vehicles" at around the same time. Later, the police discovered tracks of tire marks of bulldozers across the debris.
Cai became the executive of the company when he purchased it for RMB962 million in 2007. He later declared his decision to demolish the houses without notifying his employees "totally inappropriate" and said that he is willing to pay full compensation to the residents.
But the residents, whose belongings were destroyed when their houses were demolished, are outraged.
"I come here every day to search for things in the ruins," said Liu Yinggui, another resident. "I still haven't found the RMB30,000 receipt for the deposit on my new house."