The Electrical and Mechanical Services Department (EMSD) said it will take two to three months to complete the investigation into a rare escalator accident in Langham Place last Saturday that left 18 people injured, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
EMSD deputy director Pang Yiu-hung told a radio interview that the “triple chain” which controls the movement of the 40-meter long escalator from the fourth to the eighth floor was found broken.
The EMSD investigation will also look into the failure of an auxiliary braking system that was meant to kick in when the chain drives failed.
Pang said it was “very rare” for both mechanisms to be broken at the same time, which has apparently caused the escalator to suddenly reverse at a high speed, sending terrified shoppers tumbling down.
The EMSD’s imminent task is to conduct a comprehensive check on Hong Kong’s 65 escalators over the length of 15 meters to prevent similar accidents, he said.
Pang expects the special checks to be completed by early next week.
Meanwhile, he urged people not to walk on escalators as it could increase the risk of injury in the event of an accident.
Otis, contractor for the escalator in Langham Place, said it has begun inspections on 48 escalators over the length of 15 meters maintained by the company and expects the task to be completed by Friday.
Tse King-wa, chairman of the General Union of Lift and Escalator Employees, said lack of suitable manpower could be a possible cause for the Langham Place accident.
Wong Kai-hon, principal instructor of the Vocational Training Center (VTC), said the long escalator in Langham Place has sturdier chain drives than conventional models.
It would be quite rare for it to snap, he said, adding that it it’s possible the metal used in the drives had impurities or material fatigue.
Wong said that with the VTC churning out 200 fresh graduates a year, manpower issues in the industry could be alleviated.
[Chinese version 中文版]
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