A grave robbing attempt in southwestern China turned deadly this week when a generator the robbers used to dig their way into an ancient cave ended up poisoning them.
The 10 robbers were trying to forge their way into a cave containing tombs from the Song Dynasty (960-1279) in Xishui, southwest China's Guizhou Province, but ended inhaling poisonous air given off by an oil-fed generator they were using, according to local media. Four of the robbers died of apparent poisoning, reports said.
The case came to light after several men who claimed to be coal miners collapsed outside a local emergency room. They had previously brought in a man, whom they said had breathed in deadly gas while working underground in a mine.
After police officers and government staff arrived, those alleged coal miners who were still conscious confessed that they had looted the tombs but then felt ill from the gas wafting from their old generator and rushed to the health center to seek medical help.
Local authorities said three of the grave robbers were killed inside the cave while one died after being hospitalized. Four were slighted injured and two more accomplices in charge of guarding the entrance to the mausoleum have been arrested.
The cave has now been restored, and the hole dug out by the robbers has been filled and capped. Local citizens said the tomb, listed as a county-level cultural heritage relic in 2001, has been repeatedly damaged and robbed over the years.
This is not the first time that Chinese grave robbers have been killed while trying to bag some precious loot. Last November, three people died after an ancient tomb in Baoji, in northwest China's Shaanxi Province, collapsed.