“Crushed and howling”…the moment of a terrible escalator accident

“I fell like I was falling off a bus (at a sharp stop), and when I saw the person behind me, it was so terrible.”

A high school girl injured in the Suisaeul escalator accident in Bundang-gu스포츠토토, Seongnam-si, Gyeonggi-do, recalled the incident with a shaky voice.

“I was standing in the middle of the escalator when suddenly the escalator went backwards and I was surprised,” Nam Mo, 17, a high school student who was one of 14 people injured in the Suinsaek escalator accident that occurred on the morning of the 8th, told Yonhap News Agency as she was being treated at the emergency room of a general hospital in Bundang.

“It seemed like it went down for a long time, but it must have been three to five seconds. I was so scared, it was the first time I felt like that,” said Nam, who was on her way to school. “There were many people who fell and were crushed (immediately after the accident), and it was so terrible, I thought I should be careful when using escalators or take the stairs in the future,” she added.

An image of the backward running escalator accident at the Suunyeok escalator in Bundang-gu, Seongnam-si, Gyeonggi-do, on the morning of the 8th.

“It (the escalator) stopped with a loud bang, and from then on it went backwards so fast that my shoes came off,” said Kim Mo (female), another injured person. “The people down there couldn’t do anything, they were just screaming and crying. People who weren’t on the escalator were pulling them up,” he told JTBC.

There were also testimonies that there were signs before the accident. “The escalator was always prone to malfunctions,” an unnamed injured person told JTBC, adding that it was “often under construction and stuck.”

The accident escalator, which was installed in 2009, was confirmed to have received a ‘no abnormality’ judgment in a routine inspection conducted on the 10th of last month. Safety inspections of escalators in the subway system are conducted once a month, and the inspection was reportedly scheduled for the 10th.

On the morning of the 8th, 14 people were injured when the upbound escalator at Exit 2 of Subway Bundang Line in Seongnam-si, Gyeonggi-do, reversed course. Yonhap

CCTV footage provided by the Gyeonggi Fire and Disaster Headquarters showed a tense situation in which the upbound escalator at Exit 2 of Suisan Station was running backwards at a high speed. The upward escalator, which was lined with people during rush hour, suddenly reversed, causing passengers to fall like dominoes and pile up at the bottom.

The scene was filled with screams and cries. One person fell from the top and grabbed the handrail to jump to the other side to escape the rushing crowd. Those who fell were unable to get up for some time. Bystanders were seen pulling out passengers trapped underneath and assisting in the rescue by carrying some of them.

The escalator appears to have run in reverse for a few seconds before stopping. Three people are being hospitalized with back and leg injuries from the incident. Eleven others, including Nam, were treated for relatively minor injuries and have since returned home.

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