Language barrier keeps delivery man trapped

New York – A Chinese deliveryman who vanished taking some curried shrimp to a high-rise New York apartment, was finally rescued after spending more than three days trapped in an elevator with no food or water.

Police said on Wednesday that Chen Ming Kuang, an employee of the Happy Dragon restaurant in the Bronx, had to be treated for dehydration following release from his temporary 1,2m by 2m prison on Tuesday morning.

Chen’s co-workers raised the alarm after he failed to return from making a delivery at the 38-storey Tracy Towers apartment building on Friday evening.

Fearing he may have been mugged, police spent days conducting door-to-door enquiries and scouring the surrounding area with sniffer dogs.

What they did not check was the express elevator stuck between the building’s third and fourth floors, where Chen was wondering if he would ever see the light of day again.

Chen, 35, said his frantic calls on the elevator’s emergency intercom had been answered several times over the weekend, but his lack of English prevented an immediate rescue.

“Sometimes they would respond, sometimes they wouldn’t,” Chen told the New York Times through an interpreter. “She said something, and I couldn’t understand, and she couldn’t understand me.”

In the end, workers in the building heard his voice over the intercom on Tuesday morning and alerted firefighters, saying they thought the man might be drunk.

When he was finally freed after being trapped for 81 hours, the first thing Chen did was to gulp down a bottle of water.

“Yes, I kept yelling,” Chen responded when asked by reporters if had tried to raise the alarm.

He also told the Times he was unsure about resuming his work for the Happy Dragon, especially if it involved more deliveries to Tracy Towers.

“The tips in that building are all bad,” he said.

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