China woman escalator death: Staff 'knew footplate was loose' five minutes before fatal accident

Staff apparently tried to warn mother Xiang Liujuan while she was halfway up the escalator with her two-year-old son

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Staff at the Chinese shopping mall where a mother died after being trapped in an escalator knew that the footplate the woman fell through was loose but failed to shut the machine down, it has emerged.

Xiang Liujuan, 30, died on Saturday at shopping mall in the city of Jingzhou after a footplate at the top of the escalator she was travelling up came loose. The mother fell into the machinery beneath her but managed to push her two-year-old son to safety before she was killed.

On Monday night Chen Guanxin, the head of the Jingzhou Work Safety Administration in the Hubei province said that staff had discovered the escalator’s footplate had become loose five minutes before Xiang died, state news agency Xinhua reports.

Staff reportedly tried to tell Xiang the footplate was loose when she was halfway up the escalator, according to the South China Morning Post.

“When they were halfway from the sixth to the seventh floor, two assistants at the top of the escalator started to tell them that ‘the footplate of the escalator is broken’,” the uncle of Xiang’s surviving husband said.

An investigation into the incident is believed to be underway, though local newspaper Wuhan Evening News reported that the footplate had been left loose after maintenance work had been carried out on the escalator.

An unnamed source quoted by the newspaper claimed the workmen had forgotten to secure the footplate with screws after completing the work.