HONG KONG–At least 18 people have been injured after an escalator in a Hong Kong mall suddenly malfunctioned sending shoppers tumbling. On March 25, a Langham Place mall escalator unexpectedly changed directions and accelerated throwing shoppers down its length, according to multiple local reports.
Surveillance footage of the incident shows the escalator suddenly reversing and speeding up, causing people to lose their balance and fall down the escalator. Another video taken by a bystander shows people screaming as shoppers flail and try to grasp onto the handrails. A pile-up of people can be seen at the bottom.
WWD has reached out to the mall operator Champion REIT for comment.
Eyewitness Judy Chu told the South China Morning Post that “some people ran upwards. Some even jumped over to the escalator on the other side.”
According to the South China Morning Post report, a police spokeswoman said one man suffered a head injury and was in serious condition while all others were stable.
The malfunctioning escalator is especially long at 45 meters (147 feet), and steep as it links the fourth and eighth floors of the mall. Langham Place is a key shopping destination in Mong Kok with nearly 200 retailers.
A spokesperson for Langham Place quoted by Apple Daily said that all escalators were inspected by Otis Elevator and that the escalator in question undergoes annual inspections twice a year, most recently on Jan. 27. The spokesperson also said that it also receives routine inspections every two weeks and had last been checked on March 23, three days before the accident.
The incident recalls mall escalator trouble that occurred in mainland China in 2015. A 31-year-old Chinese mother was killed by an escalator as one of its panels gave way. The women fell into the structure and disappeared from view, but not before pushing her toddler to safety. The video footage of the accident was shared widely over the internet and sparked huge safety concerns across the country.