Sunday, 2 August 2015

A Horrific Escalator Ride

Do you dare to take an escalator in China these days?
It was shocking to read last week about a woman in Jingzhou, Hubei province who died after being swallowed up by an escalator in a shopping mall. It turns out the metal panel was loose and so the 30-year-old mother fell in, but she was able to push her two-year-old son to safety.

Two female employees caught on video got on the escalator before Xiang Liujian and they felt the panel was loose and managed to escape. They were discussing the problem at the top of the escalator, but did nothing to warn Xiang about the metal plate, watching her fall in.

There are reports the video footage is gruesome, and it took workers several hours to recover her body, or parts of it...

And now a cleaner in a Shanghai mall has had part of his leg amputated after it got caught in an escalator yesterday.

Xiang falls into the escalator as she pushes her son to safety
The 35-year-old was cleaning the escalator when his leg got stuck in the section where the stairs meet the metal plate. Although the escalator stopped immediately, his calf was so severely injured that doctors had no choice but to amputate the leg.

An investigation is underway.

In the case of Xiang, investigators have found the three floor plates were poorly designed, and so they got loose and tilted easily. They also found the size of the plates did not match the original designs and were loosely fitted.

The manufacturer, Suzhou Shenlong Elevator Company, was accused of poor quality control and officials have ordered all of its machines that are used across the province to stop service and have safety checks carried out.

The mall was also found not to have taken proper emergency measures after its staff discovered the escalator was faulty.

Escalators are common place in Chinese cities -- now everyone must be worried about getting on and off one. Are they all safe? Is Suzhou Shenlong Elevator Company the only firm in the whole of China that may have cut corners?

This brings back memories of the scandal of melamine-laced powder milk in 2008, where at least six babies died and tens of thousands of babies and toddlers had serious health problems.

Adding melamine to the thin milk helped boost the protein levels of the powdered milk on paper, but what did it do in the end? Why are people still chasing profits instead of aiming for the goal of quality products?

The horrific elevator death drags China back to the stereotypical belief that things made in the Middle Kingdom are shoddily made, without caring for people's safety and well-being.

Will we see a full transparent investigation? Will the culprits be punished? It's not just those who installed the escalator, but also the company's executives who allowed shoddy workmanship to go ahead, and the mall's management for not having emergency plans in place for escalators malfunctioning.

In the meantime what about the husband and son? What kind of legal recourse will they have?

Time will tell if justice will be served.

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