World

18 Injured When Escalator Speeds Up, Reverses Direction (Video)

| by Kathryn Schroeder

Eighteen people were injured at a Hong Kong shopping center when an escalator malfunctioned (video below).

The incident occurred on March 25 at Langham Place in Mong Kok on one of the longest indoor escalators in the city, the South China Morning Post reports. Without warning, the escalator reversed direction at high speed, causing mall patrons to tumble.

Video footage of the accident shows the nearly 148-foot tall escalator change direction, followed by people falling backwards, tumbling down and piling on top of one another as they hit the ground.

In a separate video obtained by the South China Morning Post, people can be heard screaming as others fall over or cling to the handrail to avoid tumbling down the escalator.

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There were 18 people injured, including 14 women and four men. One is in serious condition and being treated in a hospital for a head injury, a police spokeswoman said.

“I was going up the escalator, and it was two times faster than normal,” a woman, who injured her leg in the accident, said.

Another witness said she saw the escalator increase speed during the incident that lasted less than one minute.

"I heard people screaming ... the escalator was going down, but the speed accelerated," she said. "People started to panic ... and some fell down."

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“It was so sudden that people couldn’t respond in time ... more than 10 people piled up near the base of the escalator,” one shopper said, adding that the escalator was moving about two or three times faster than normal.

The shopper saw one of the injured men on the floor bleeding.

"I'm not sure if he was conscious, but a foreign man and a few mall staff helped stop his bleeding with a first aid kit," she said.

According to a manager of a nearby dessert cafe: "some people ran upwards, some even jumped over to the escalator on the other side."

The escalator had passed an inspection on March 23, just two days before the malfunction.

On March 26, the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department said preliminary inspections suggest a damaged driving chain and a malfunctioning braking device may have caused the accident, according to the South China Morning Post.

The driving chain links an escalator's driving gear to the driving wheel of its steps, the department said. If the drive chain breaks, then there is a safety device that is supposed to stop the escalator from losing momentum.

It has not yet been determined how the chain came loose or broke. The investigation is ongoing and the department said it is upset over the accident and offers its sympathies to the victims.

Sources: South China Morning Post (2), Budget Stark/YouTube / Photo credit: South China Morning Post via The Star

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