Woman in China loses leg after getting trapped in escalator, but witnesses say it was her fault

An elderly woman lost her left leg in yet another escalator accident in China after half her body appeared to be 'swallowed' by the machinery. 

But witnesses say the victim may not have been entirely blameless after all.

The freak incident occurred on Saturday (July 20) in a shopping mall in the Heilongjiang capital city of Harbin. 

Viral social media footage showed the shopper, believed to be in her 60s, holding onto the escalator handle while she remained trapped waist down in a gap.

According to China News, by the time firefighters were able to free her, her left leg had already been severed at the knee and her right foot mangled.

Family members claim that the escalator had been running normally before the steps gave way. "There wasn't even anywhere for her to jump to," one of them can be heard saying in a video by Pear Video.

However, multiples witnesses say otherwise.

Several eyewitnesses interviewed said that the woman had insisted on going on the escalator despite barricades surrounding it.

"The escalator was under repairs, there were barricades all around. She removed the barricades. The escalator was just fixed and they were still testing it!" one shopkeeper told the camera. 

Said a bystander: "It was still under maintenance but she insisted. You couldn't stop her at all." 

Another witness agreed, saying: "They were still testing the escalator when she insisted on going on it. So she stepped on and everything gave way." 

The actual cause of the accident is still under investigation by authorities.

Fortunately, the victim is now in a stable condition after undergoing emergency surgery at a local hospital.

rainercheung@asiaone.com