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Photos: Alarmed reactions in China to this week’s escalator tragedy

Empty escalator
Shaun Dunmall/Creative Commons
Death trap?
By Gabriel Fisher
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

A video released earlier this week of a woman in a Chinese mall throwing her toddler to safety before falling to her death in an escalator malfunction has shaken people the world over. The incident has especially spooked people in China, since it comes on the heels of several other tragic mishaps in the country involving faulty escalators and elevators.

A Chinese safety regulator announced that the integrity of its escalators and elevators requires review, given the country’s rapid urbanization, which has dramatically driven up escalator and elevator installation and use. Nearly 5%, or 111,000, of the country’s escalators are faulty, the regulator said.

The fear is so palpable that a slew of videos has showed up on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, showing people riding escalators in odd ways, presumably to avoid a similar fate. (It should be noted that we aren’t sure who posted the videos or where they were taken.)

Some footage shows people supporting themselves on escalator handlebars, presumably to avoid the perceived danger of touching the escalator stairs. In other videos, riders are seen testing or circumventing the exit area of escalators, suggesting a fear of loose panels similar to the one that fell through in the mother-child incident. In that case, security footage revealed that mall workers had noticed the loose flooring prior to the mother and child riding the escalator, but the mall failed to shut it down before they took their ride.


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