A TODDLER who was twice run over then ignored by passers-by on a busy market street died today a week after the accident.
The horrfying details of her fate sparked days of bitter soul-searching over declining morality in China, and was captured on CCTV (pictured)
The Guangzhou Military District General Hospital said that the two-year-old girl, Wang Yue, died shortly after midnight of brain and organ failure.
"Her injuries were too severe and the treatment had no effect," said intensive care unit director Su Lei.
The plight of the child, nicknamed Yueyue, came to symbolise what many Chinese see as a decay in public morals after heady decades of economic growth and rising prosperity.
Gruesome CCTV of last Thursday's accident, aired on television and posted on the internet, showed Yueyue toddling along the hardware market street in the southern city of Foshan. A van strikes her, slows and then resumes driving, rolling its back right wheel over the child. As she lies with blood pooling, 18 people walk or cycle by and another van strikes her before a scrap picker scoops her up.
Yueyue's death touched off another round of hand-wringing about society and personal responsibility. Many comments posted to social media sites said "we are all passers-by". Li Xiangping, a professor of religion at Huadong University, said on a social networking service that it is too easy to blame others. He said: "What after all prompted such a sad phenomenon? Officials? The rich? Or is it our own cold-heartedness?"
Police have detained the drivers of both vans on suspicion of causing a traffic accident but have not said what formal charges they would face and if manslaughter would be among them now the girl has died.
The people who could be seen on the video passing by the injured Yueyue have recounted being harassed for ignoring her.
Southern Metropolis Daily newspaper quoted a man identified as Mr Chen who had been receiving crank calls ever since someone picked him out as the 16th passer-by. He said he hadn't noticed the child.
Some experts said an unwillingness to help others is an outgrowth of urbanisation.
"Rapid urbanisation not only affects China or Foshan, but anywhere in the world, where there is high population density, then the relationship with the neighbours, and with each other is affected," said Yao Yue, a psychologist and director of a telephone help-line for distressed people in Beijing.