2 women stepped on problem panel minutes earlier
TWO of the three female mall employees who witnessed a mother plunge into a hole after the floor panel of an escalator in China gave way had a close shave just minutes earlier, newly released surveillance footage has shown.
The incident last weekend - which made headlines around the world - in a shopping mall in Hubei's Jingzhou city killed 30-year-old Xiang Liujuan.
The housewife managed to thrust her son out of harm's way after the panel beneath them collapsed, but she was dragged into the gaping hole by the escalator's machinery.
China's state broadcaster CCTV released a two-minute video that captures how a female mall employee had travelled down an escalator from the seventh to the sixth floor.
She reportedly forgot something and took the escalator up to join a colleague waiting at the top of the escalator.
The same floor panel beneath the pair then gave way slightly, nearly causing them to lose their balance.
They purportedly left to notify the mall's management before returning. The footage also showed one of them prodding the panel with her foot.
Less than a minute later, Ms Xiang and her son got on the escalator, with the two staff members pointing at the panel to warn them as they approached the top.
Ms Xiang can be seen picking up her son while on the escalator, and quickly pushing her son to safety when the panel caved in.
The tragedy has cast China's safety standards in an unfavourable light, with criticism also levelled at the maintenance crew which forgot to secure the panel after repairs.
Netizens are also blaming the two female employees for not switching off the escalator or stationing themselves at the bottom to warn shoppers.
In another accident, a woman was killed while taking a lift in Hangzhou, eastern Zhejiang province, yesterday.
The 21-year-old entered the lift from the 16th storey of an apartment block and was partly in the lift when it suddenly went up. Her head was stuck on the 17th floor while her body was left dangling one floor below, the local media reported.
THE STRAITS TIMES