A Chinese family have staged a mass suicide attempt by drinking pesticide outside newspaper offices in Beijing.
The group of five women and two men from the eastern province of Jiangsu were seen foaming at the mouth outside the headquarters of the China Youth Daily newspaper.
They tried to kill themselves in a protest against local officials who threw them off their land and bulldozed their homes.
A witness who saw the horrifying demonstration described how the group pulled out plastic bottles, drank the contents and then fell to the ground clutching their throats in agony.
According to doctors four of the seven are now out of danger, but the other three are in a critical condition and may not survive.
They were left homeless when their family home was demolished five years ago and were never given any compensation in return.
Despite handing out posters and leaflets in a bid to garner support for their case, they failed to generate any means of supporting themselves,
Therefore all seven agreed they would head to the capital where they staged the demonstration outside the offices of official newspaper of the Communist Youth League of China.
According to police, the group said that they were not prepared to carry on living without recognition for the wrong done to them, and that without death there was only dishonour.
Bo Tuan works at the newspaper and was on his way into work when he saw the protest.
He said: ‘I heard them shouting for justice and didn’t really pay much attention but then they pulled out plastic bottles and gulped down the contents before clutching their throats and collapsing to the floor. It was shocking to see, they were frothing at the mouth and choking and then all of them just lay there still.’
Ambulances arrived quickly at the scene and took the victims to hospital for treatment.
Beijing officials are reportedly looking into the complaint of the seven, and discussing it with local officials to find out exactly what happened with the alleged illegal land acquisition.