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Broken chain and spoilt brake behind reversing HK escalator

HONG KONG A damaged driving chain may have been to blame for an escalator malfunctioning in Hong Kong on Saturday, injuring 18 people.

It appears that a braking device had also malfunctioned in the incident, the South China Morning Post reported, quoting Hong Kong's Electrical and Mechanical Services Department.

Shoppers at Langham Place, a popular mall in Mongkok, lost their balance and fell as the 45m escalator reversed direction.

Video footage shot by witnesses showed the up-riding escalator suddenly reversing and going downwards at a higher speed, causing dozens of passengers to lose balance and roll down to the ground.

A woman who injured her leg in the accident said the escalator was moving twice as fast as usual.

More than 10 people piled up near the base of the escalator, a witness said.

Most escalators have safety devices to ensure they do not go into reverse, a lift and escalator engineer told the newspaper.

Why these auxiliary brakes did not kick in would have to be investigated, he said.

The escalators were still cordoned off yesterday.

A Langham Place spokesman had earlier said the escalator had just passed a biennial safety inspection last Thursday.

It was installed by Otis Elevator Company (HK) Limited.

The escalator, linking levels four and eight of the mall on Argyle Street, is one of the longest indoor escalators in Hong Kong. - STRAITS TIMES ONLINE

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