A hospital in Zhengzhou in central China was demolished when doctors were still working and patients were being treated. The incident sent staff and patients fleeing.

The alleged demolition at the Fourth Affiliated Hospital of Zhengzhou University in Henan province was carried out amid a land dispute concerning a road widening project near it, local media reports said. The department of radiology and the hospital's morgue were damaged the most in the demolition which was carried out on Thursday (7 January) morning.

Expensive medical equipment, including surgical and diagnostic items, in the department were reportedly destroyed and at least six bodies in the morgue were buried under the rubble, the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported.

"Burying the remains of patients is enormously disrespectful to the dead," the hospital's deputy propaganda chief, Zhang Yuan, was quoted as saying. "I never imagined anything like this would ever happen."

The director of radiology department, Liu Chunguang, said he was taking an X-ray of a patient when a wall suddenly collapsed leaving a big hole in the room. The patient was half-scared to death and ran away, he said.

Describing the scene of demolition, an eyewitness said a dozen unidentified men wearing camouflage uniforms arrived at the hospital, in Huiji district, and began driving a large bulldozer towards the complex. "The whole process took less than half an hour," he said, adding that there was no time to respond and everybody ran out.

The hospital claimed that the demolition was carried out without prior notice. However, the Huiji District Government Information Office said in an online statement that they had asked the hospital in vain to demolish the CT room and the morgue, the Associated Press reported.

It said workers had made sure there were no people inside the hospital before driving the bulldozer. It claimed there were no casualties.