SHENZHEN, GUANGDONG - Twenty-four passengers were injured when an upward-moving escalator suddenly reversed direction in a Shenzhen subway station during Tuesday morning's rush hour.
Dozens of passengers fell backward when the No 5 escalator in the Guomao station of the subway's Line 1 malfunctioned at 8:49 am.
The injured, including a pregnant woman, were sent to three hospitals in the city in about 20 minutes. None were severely injured.
The malfunction's cause remained unknown as of Tuesday evening.
A passenger surnamed Huang said about 80 people were on the escalator, as many commuters, like him, were heading to work.
"I heard some clacking noise, and (the escalator) suddenly started running downward at twice the speed that it had been going upward," Huang said.
"People were shocked. Some screamed."
Several passengers ran upward and got off the escalator, but most failed to respond in time and fell, added Huang, who was slightly injured.
The escalator was soon cordoned off and did not cause additional disruptions or delays.
Shenzhen Metro, the company operating the subway, said on Tuesday evening that it is still investigating the incident with the escalator's supplier and maintainer. It promised the public an explanation.
"Such an incident had never occurred since Shenzhen started operating its subway in 2004," said Chen Qi, deputy general-manager of the operation section of Shenzhen Metro. "We assume responsibility for this incident."
A thorough inspection will be conducted to ensure the station's other escalators are safe, Chen said. He promised to take care of the injured.
"We are sorry for those who were injured," he said.
"We'll cover all medical costs resulting from the accident. And we will discuss compensation after determining the cause."
The hospitals said one of the injured suffered a ligament rupture, one had a dislocated lumbar and another experienced foot trauma. The others, including the pregnant woman, were slightly injured.
"We received about 13 patients injured in the incident, most of whom were treated and left the hospital by the afternoon," Shenzhen People's Hospital doctor Wang Hua told China Daily.
"Only one woman experienced foot trauma, and I performed surgery on her at about 2 pm. She will recover in about two weeks."
-- China Daily/Asia News Network