What the heck is going on with the escalators in China?
That's the question many Chinese residents are asking after a series of gruesome incidents left one woman dead and several others severely injured this year alone.
Earlier this summer, in the southern Guangxi region of China, a toddler did what toddlers do and wandered away from his parents only to trip and fall near the escalator. His arm became wedged in the escalator and it took 30 minutes before mechanics were able to pry his mangled limb from the machinery.
A few days before that, a 35-year-old man had to have his left leg amputated after the escalator that he was working on in a Shanghai shopping mall collapsed underneath him. One week prior to that incident, China watched in horror as a young mother pushed her son to safety only to lose her own life when a panel of an escalator on which she was riding in the central province of Hubei collapsed underneath her. Security footage of the whole horrible incident was posted online.
These aren't just isolated incidents. CNN reports that 13 people were injured last year when an escalator at a busy Shanghai subway abruptly reversed direction. A similar situation at a Beijing subway station in 2011 caused the death of one teenage boy and injured 30 others.
With all of these tragic stories circulating in the news, it's no wonder that many Chinese people have grown paranoid about riding escalators. Some avoid them altogether, and those who can't have developed some rather bizarre techniques to ensure safety.
At the moment, experts are blaming maintenance backlogs and insufficient inspections for the increase in incidents. But Chinese officials have yet to declare that they are working on a solution.
So if you find yourself in China, you might want to skip the escalators for the time being and take the stairs.