A woman was killed after falling into an escalator in a shopping centre in central China, local media report.
Surveillance footage from Sunday’s incident shows a metal panel at the top of the escalator giving way, causing the woman and her toddler to stumble.
The woman, identified by local media as Xiang Liujuan, 30, was able to push her child to safety as she fell in.
The incident in Jingzhou, in Hubei province, has sparked widespread anger at the department store.
The woman fell into the escalator at 10:09 local time (02:09 GMT) on Sunday, state broadcaster CCTV and newspaper Wuhan Evening News reported.
Employees standing at the top of the escalators tried to pull the woman to safety, but were unable to stop her from being pulled in.
It took until 14:00 for rescuers to retrieve her body, CCTV said.
There was no immediate comment from the shopping centre, but local authorities are investigating the incident, media reports said.
Unconfirmed reports said that maintenance works had been carried out on the escalator recently, and workmen had replaced the metal panel but forgotten to secure it with screws, Wuhan Evening News said.
– Employees managed to haul the child to safety after the mother pushed him away from the gap
The incident has sparked fury on Chinese social media, with many demanding answers from the shopping centre’s management. As of Monday morning, microblog posts on the subject had attracted more than 20 million views.
One user called for the department store to temporarily suspend operations, while another demanded: “Where were the screws to secure the panel? If the screws had been removed why didn’t they shut down the escalator? What brand was that escalator?”
“This is heartbreaking!” User Maqi Yaduo wrote. “Why didn’t store employees cordon off or shut down the escalator? The department store definitely bears responsibility for this.”
Many paid tribute to the mother for ensuring her child was safe.
“When I saw her fall in I felt awful – but at the same time I felt how strong a mother’s love can be – during such a sudden event, the mother’s first reaction was still to push the child away from the gap,” user I am a Promising Youth said.
Others expressed concerns about safety standards in China.
“I used to think only lifts would kill people – now it looks like escalators aren’t safe either,” user Wang Wentao wrote. “Next time I’m on an escalator, I’ll jump across [the top].”
China has seen several escalator-related accidents in recent years, including an escalator in Shanghai that suddenly reversed direction in 2014, injuring 13 people, and a Beijing escalator that malfunctioned in 2011, killing a teenage boy.