Boy's escalator death declared accident

BEIJING - The death of a boy whose head was trapped between a concrete floor and the handrail of an escalator in Beijing has been confirmed as accidental, the city's device quality watchdogs said on Tuesday.

The victim, who came from East China's Anhui province, stretched his neck out over the handrail while taking an escalator from the fifth to the sixth floor at the Xinyidai department store on Xidan shopping street around noon on Saturday. As the escalator continued rising, his head became lodged between the floor and the handrail, according to an official micro blog of Beijing Xicheng district government.

The boy was on his way to lunch on the seventh floor when the accident occurred on Saturday. The boy's mother, a shopkeeper at the store, was busy with selling goods on the fourth floor, according to the micro blog.

According to Beijing News, rescue personnel arrived at the scene 10 minutes after the accident to discover that the boy was already dead.

Right now details about the exact cause of death are pending release by authorities.

The Beijing bureau of quality and technical supervision immediately opened an investigation and on Tuesday denied that the case could be attributed to escalator quality problems.

"We investigated the escalator carefully but did not find any problem. That is to say, the device should have been working well at the time the incident occurred," said an officer in the bureau of quality and technical supervision in Xicheng district, who is a member of the investigation team but declined to give his name.

"We have paid a lot of attention to large escalators in crowded areas, such as railway stations and subways, but we can't supervise every escalator at every second," the officer said, adding that the big escalators in the city must be examined twice a year.

Officials will only examine escalators in stores and other places if residents report quality or safety issues, he added.

The boy's mother, named Ding Meiying, had just picked up her son from her hometown at the time of the accident. She was not available for comment as of Tuesday, said Hong Liang, the manager of the shopping center.

"We've forbidden all the vendors from bringing their children to the mall," Hong said, adding he has ordered thorough inspections on all the facilities inside the shopping center after the incident.

As of Tuesday, Ding's clothing stall was still closed, and other escalators in the mall remain in operation except for the ones on the fifth floor, where security was dispatched to guard the scene.

But Hong declined to mention the mall's stance on compensation, insisting that right now their top priority is to calm the victims.

As of 5 pm on Tuesday, the post about the escalator tragedy on Sina Weibo, the Chinese equivalent to Twitter, has been forwarded more than 10,000 times and received nearly 2,500 replies.

Peng Jinsheng, director of the expert committee of the Beijing Chamber of Elevator Commerce, said people should take better care of their children when taking escalators.

Peng also suggested that escalator designers can seal the space or widen the distance between the handrail and the concrete wall to avoid similar incidents.

On July 5, a 13-year-old boy was killed and at least 29 others were injured as the escalator at Beijing Zoo subway station suddenly went into reverse.