Nine people suffered leg injuries in a freak accident on an escalator at an MTR station in Hong Kong during the morning rush hour on Thursday.
At around 9 am, a panel apparently broke loose from a descending escalator at Ngau Tau Kok Station and stuck out from a side of the moving staircase, hitting passengers in the leg.
A total of nine people were injured before MTR staff rushed to the scene and stopped the escalator.
The injured, which included six women and three men, were sent to hospital. They were all later discharged after treatment, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
An investigation revealed that the accident, which did not disrupt train services, was caused by a component, measuring about six inches in length and about two in width, near a right-side panel of the escalator.
Coming loose, the equipment stuck out and slashed the victims’ legs, as they traveled down to the concourse.
Calling the accident a rare one, Tse King-wa, chairman of the Hong Kong General Union of Lift and Escalator Employees, did not rule out the possibility that someone’s clothes might have caused the metal strip to break away, resulting in the incident.
At the same time, he also said that there is a chance that improper maintenance could have resulted in the mishap, as the contractor may have failed to ensure firm fixation of the strip on the panel.
As escalators at MTR stations are not maintained on a daily basis, Tse suggested that MTR staff should ride the equipment first every morning, before passengers are allowed onto the moving stairs, to test the safety.
According to MTR’s operations chief Alan Cheng Kwan-hing, the escalator in question underwent regular maintenance by a contractor after the last train on Wednesday departed, and MTR staff also found no problem with the escalator during an inspection early Thursday morning.
The official said that MTR, the government, and the contractor are now looking into what caused the incident, and that all escalators at the stations will be inspected, RTHK reported.
Extending sympathy to the injured people, MTR said it places great importance on the issue of safe travel. The rail operator said it has asked the contractor to investigate the cause of the incident and inspect other escalators of the same model.
The company will do its best to prevent accidents of the same sort from happening again, MTR added.
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