China's quality watchdog has started a campaign to ensure the safety of escalators after a mother in Hubei province was killed on an escalator at a department store after pushing her son to safety.
In a statement released on Tuesday, the special equipment bureau of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine said it has ordered quality watch-dogs at local levels to examine the safety of escalators and moving sidewalks.
Unsafe equipment should be suspended immediately and repaired, the authority said.
The measures followed the death of Xiang Liujuan, a 31-year-old woman from Jingzhou, Hubei province, who was killed on Saturday when she fell into a gap between the floor and the escalator at a store in Jingzhou.
Surveillance video of the accident, showing Xiang lifting her toddler son to safety as she fell, was uploaded to social media, where it was shared more than 100,000 times on Sina Weibo.
The number of escalators and elevators in China has risen sharply in the past decade amid the intense urbanization drive, according to the quality watchdog.
In another accident on Tuesday, a woman in Wuxi, Jiangsu province, was killed after getting stuck between an elevator and a platform in a factory.
China had more than 3.6 million elevators and escalators in service by the end of last year, and the number is increasing by 20 percent each year. In 2003, the country had only 300,000 elevators in service.
A separate safety campaign was launched in March for elevators. Forty-eight elevator accidents resulting in 36 deaths were reported last year, according to the watchdog.
"The supervision of elevator safety in China is done by government departments, while in Western countries the responsibility lies with the users and property owners," said an official with the administration's special equipment bureau, who asked not to be identified.
The subject of liability for a large number of elevators remains unclear, and that has made safety supervision difficult, he said.
"The safety problem mainly lies in the elevators that were put into service before 2003, when safety standards for equipment was relatively low," he said.
An emergency response system has been established for elevators in 11 cities across the country, and residents who become trapped in elevators can dial 96333 to request rescue, the quality watchdog said.