Authorities say human error is to blame for the escalator accident at a department store in Jingzhou, Hubei that left a 30-year-old mother dead on Sunday, as mall staff had reportedly known about the loose footplate that collapsed beneath her but failed to turn off the machinery.
Surveillance footage captured the horrifying moment Xiang Liujuan stepped off the ascending elevator with her two-year-old son when the flooring suddenly collapsed beneath her. Xiang had managed to push her son up to safety and he was dragged away by a shopping assistant, but not before he witnessed his mother being sucked into the machinery to her death.
The surveillance video was viewed more than 6.6 million times yesterday on Weibo alone, and as there was no sound accompanying the footage, many questioned whether the female mall attendants seen at the top of the escalator had known about the problem.
As it turns out, they did. Chen Guangxi, director of the local work safety authority, said at a press conference that mall staff had found out that a shaft cover at the top of the moving staircase was loose but didn’t stop it, according to Shanghai Daily.
Maintenance had reportedly just been carried out on the escalator and workers forgot to screw the cover plate back into place.
Only when the woman was halfway up the escalator with her son did the staff members yell and warn her. Unfortunately, by that time it was too late.
“The warning from the store attendants was already too late. It’s impossible for a mom traveling with a kid to walk back on an ascending escalator,” the victim’s sister-in-law wrote on her Weibo account.