A tragic escalator accident in China has claimed the life of a woman. The accident occurred at a shopping center in Jingzhou, Hubei province in central China. Security video shows the woman falling through the floor and being pulled in by the turning gears – after she manages to push her child to out of harm’s way.
Writes BBC News: “Surveillance footage from Sunday’s incident shows a metal panel at the top of the escalator giving way, causing the woman and her toddler to stumble. The woman, identified by local media as Xiang Liujuan, 30, was able to push her child to safety as she fell in.”
As the shopper steps off the escalator, the metal floor simply swings open. Like a trapdoor, Liujuan is instantly swallowed up. She manages to grab onto the floor’s edge, but officials said she became caught in the trappings below, and was pulled down into the mechanism. It took crews nearly four hours to free her body.
According to local news reports, the escalator was recently serviced, and a maintenance worker “forgot” to reinstall screws and secure down the metal panel that allows workers access to the escalator.
The video feed shows two employees at the top of the elevator. When Liujuan falls in, she manages to push her two-year-old boy to safety, but cannot hang on. Another individual is walking by, but only one employee attempts to grab the woman, and she reaches out with only a one-hand attempt at that. The other women simply watch – one at a distance – before running off.
Officials are looking into the accident. Most escalators are equipped with emergency stop buttons both at the top and bottom of the escalator. It appears there is a button in the middle panel between the two sets of moving staircases. If so, no one pushed it.
Video of the horrific accident was seen by millions on China’s social media site Sina Weibo. Many expressed outrage over the simple negligence that led to this woman’s sudden and gruesome death.
“Why didn’t the staffers stop customers at the entrance to the machine or just turn it off?” one wrote, according to AFP. “The department store is definitely responsible.”
“This is heartbreaking!” User Maqi Yaduo wrote. “Why didn’t store employees cordon off or shut down the escalator? The department store definitely bears responsibility for this.”
“I was appalled when I saw her sink and at the same time felt the greatness of maternal love — the mother wasted no time pushing the child out when it happened,” another said.
Adds BBC News: “China has seen several escalator-related accidents in recent years, including an escalator in Shanghai that suddenly reversed direction in 2014, killing 13 people, and a Beijing escalator that malfunctioned in 2011, killing a teenage boy.”