The government has revoked the licences of two technicians for half a year, following an accident involving an escalator at a busy Hong Kong shopping mall in March.

Otis Elevator Company (HK) Ltd manages the long escalators between the fourth and eight floors of Langham Place. On the afternoon of March 25, one escalator rapidly reversed direction, descending rapidly, causing shoppers to pile over each other and leaving 17 injured.

At a Friday press conference, Electrical and Mechanical Services Department (EMSD) spokespeople attributed the accident to a breakdown of the escalator’s main drive chain, which was caused by metal fatigue. The condition of the chain was not detected during regular inspections.

At the same time, the safety system of the escalator was not triggered when the drive chain snapped.

Criminal investigation

The EMSD said it has revoked the escalator engineer and escalator worker licences – respectively held by two Otis technicians – for six months, suspecting that they may not have conducted regular inspections and maintenance work in a safe and appropriate manner.

The spokespeople said they would not comment further on the two technicians, given that the department is conducting an ongoing criminal investigation into responsibility for the incident.

Photo: Video screenshots via Apple Lau and Apple Daily.

Two other Otis technicians were arrested in March after handling mechanical parts of the escalator on the night of the accident, before an inquiry was completed.

See also: Escalator accident at Hong Kong shopping mall leaves 17 injured

They have been charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice.

Elson Tong

Elson Tong is a graduate of international relations and former investigations consultant. He has also written for Stand News.