A woman was killed in an elevator accident while shopping at a department store in Shanghai on Saturday.
The woman, 35, a tourist from Hunan province, fell into an elevator shaft from the sixth floor of the Shanghai Hualian Department Store on Nanjing Road Pedestrian Street after failing to see that the elevator car wasn't there when the door opened.
The store later explained that repairmen were installing elevator cars on the building's top floor when the accident happened, and that someone might have removed a large wood panel they had used to block the elevator entrance on the sixth floor.
Two hours later, another elevator accident occurred in a residential building on the outskirts of the city, causing a 27-year-old woman living there to suffer several severe fractures.
The woman's husband said he and his wife were taking the elevator from the building's 16th floor, where they lived, to the ground floor. The door opened long enough to let the husband out but shut just as the woman was trying to follow him. The elevator descended uncontrollably into the basement before rocketing back up to the 27th floor, jostling the woman about inside.
Residents in the building said that similar incidents had happened in the past, although no one had been inside the elevator on those occasions.
Shanghai had about 140,000 elevators by the end of 2011, giving it more than New York, according to the Shanghai Municipal Bureau of Quality and Technical Supervision. Last year, six people were killed in elevator accidents in Shanghai.
In all of China, an average of 40 elevator accidents occur every year, killing 30 people on average. Eighty percent of the accidents resulted from disrepair, said He Danyang, a researcher into the elevator industry from the Shenzhen-based Qianzhan Research Institute.
On Sept 13, 19 workers were killed at a construction site in Wuhan, Hubei province, after an elevator they were in plummeted hundreds of meters.
Three days before, a 37-year-old mother and her 18-month-old son stepped into an empty elevator shaft on the sixth floor of a building in Rui'an, Zhejiang province. The mother died soon after being sent to a hospital and the toddler suffered a severe skull fracture.
A day before that, an elevator dropped from the 19th floor of a shopping mall in Dongguan, Guangdong province, leaving 20 people injured.
"While the users of elevators are the ones who are responsible for (the safety of) elevators, the government should also be responsible for supervising their conditions," said Ruan Hailei, senior engineer at the Shanghai Institute of Special Equipment Inspection and Technology.
Other industry experts called for the elevators to be examined every 15 days to ensure they are safe.
Shen Weimin, deputy director of Shanghai Municipal Bureau of Quality and Technical Supervision, said regulations approved by the State Council stipulate that elevators that fail to pass examinations be taken out of operation.
Even so, he said there should be an exception "allowing further use for the convenience of those working or living in the buildings".
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