Shoppers Fly Down Staircase After 150-Foot Escalator Is Thrown Into Reverse

Image: Wikicommons
Image: Wikicommons

Are you afraid of escalators? Would you like to be?

Just watch this CCTV footage of an escalator malfunction at the Langham Place mall in Hong Kong. When the 15-level shopping center was packed with people on Saturday, a 150-foot-tall escalator abruptly changed directions, sending bodies hurdling towards the lower level at twice the machine’s normal speed. The accident injured 18 people, leaving one man in serious condition with a head wound.

If that footage wasn’t horrifying enough, try turning up your sound and hitting play on this video, which captured shoppers’ screams as they echoed through the atrium:

Police arrested two mechanics after the incident, claiming that they may have tampered with the escalator’s parts before the incident, a chilling accusation if true. A spokesman for the Otis Elevator Company, which employs the two men, called the arrests “a surprise.”

Escalator accidents like this are not unheard of, however. Similar instances of escalators going into reverse—both in China and the United States—have made headlines in recent years. Still, the utter violence of the Hong Kong incident makes it especially terrifying.

[South China Morning Post]

Senior editor at Gizmodo.

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How does something like that happen? Like, do the stairs disengage from the motor and just go with momentum? Or does the motor actually drive backwards somehow?