Escalator was going ‘twice as fast’: witnesses describe accident at Hong Kong shopping mall that left 17 injured
Rescue workers rushed to Langham Place in Mong Kok after the one of longest indoor escalators in the city stopped and reversed at high speed on Saturday afternoon
At least 18 people were injured in an escalator accident in a bustling Mong Kok shopping mall on Saturday afternoon.
Rescue workers rushed to Langham Place on Argyle Street after the one of longest indoor escalators in Hong Kong suddenly stopped and reversed direction at around 4pm Saturday.
Video footage obtained by the Post showed the 45-metre-long escalator quickly changed directions at high speed, causing people to fall and pile up at the base of the escalator.
In another video, some people could be heard screaming as others tumbled down the escalator. Others managed to grab the handrail and steady themselves.
Eyewitnesses said the 14 women and three men lost their balance and rolled down the escalator. A police spokeswoman said one man suffered a head injury and was sent to Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
Langham Place is a HK$11 billion urban renewal project which was completed in 2004.
“I was going up the escalator, and it was like two times faster than normal,” a woman who injured her leg said at the scene.
Another woman said she saw the escalator increase speed during the accident, which lasted less than one minute.
“I heard people screaming...the escalator was going down but the speed accelerated,” the woman, who identified herself as Tina, said.
“People started to panic... and some fell down.”
She recalled that the same escalator had stopped for a few minutes earlier in the day, around noon.
Lau Kit-ying, who was eating at a nearby burger shop when the accident happened, said the speed of the escalator was around two or three times faster than normal.
“It was fast and people couldn’t respond immediately... more than 10 people piled up near the base of the escalator afterwards,” Lau said.
She said she saw a man laying on the floor, bleeding.
“I’m not sure if he was conscious, but a foreign man and a few mall staff helped stop his bleeding with a first aid kit,” she said.
“But most of the [injured] were young people and they stood up quickly afterwards... I’m glad that there wasn’t any elderly at that time,” she said.
Judy Chu, manager of a nearby dessert cafe, recalled the panic following the accident.
“Some people ran upwards. Some even jumped over to another escalator on the side,” Chu said.
Chung Chi-wai, assistant divisional officer of Tsim Sha Tsui fire station, said none of the injured had suffered broken bones and all were conscious.
“The escalator was moving up from the fourth floor to the eighth floor, but it suddenly moved backward and people lost balance,” Chung said.
A Langham Place spokeswoman said the escalator had passed a recent inspection on March 23, showing it was up to the safety standard. Annual inspections were carried out twice a year, while routine checks were done once every two weeks.
She said contractor Otis Elevator Company (HK) Limited had been asked to investigate the cause of accident, as the company was responsible for maintaining all the elevators in the shopping mall.
She added Langham Place was highly concerned about the accident and would offer assistance to victims and fully cooperate with any investigating government departments.
Redeveloped from what was known as the Mong Kok Six Streets, Langham Place stands as a flagship redevelopment project and a milestone in Hong Kong’s history of urban renewal. It boosts 1.8 million square feet of floor area comprising an intelligent office tower, a 665-room five-star hotel and a 15-level shopping mall, all held together by a glass atrium with a “digital sky roof.”
The project is a joint venture between the Urban Renewal Authority and local developer Great Eagle Holdings Limited.
The mall attracts more than 200,000 visitors each day. It has nearly 200 merchants.