At least 18-people were injured Saturday in Hong Kong when a 150-foot-long escalator suddenly stopped and reversed, speeding up as it sent shoppers tumbling, the South China Morning Post reports. The escalator travels between the fourth and eighth floors of the shopping mall at Langham Place; it's one of the longest escalators in Hong Kong. It was acting as an "up" escalator Saturday afternoon when what officials believe was a malfunction instantly turned it into a "down" escalator. Witnesses estimate it sped up to anywhere between twice and quadruple its normal speed.
Shoppers lost their footing and fell, piling up at the bottom of the escalator. Others tried to run up it or jumped over the sides. "I heard screaming," one witness says. "People started to panic." Another witness says the escalator reversed "so sudden that people couldn't respond in time." One of the injured shoppers was in serious condition with a head injury. A spokesperson for Langham Place says the escalator passed its most recent inspection on Thursday. Officials are investigating the cause of the malfunction. Video of the scary scene can be seen here and here. (Read more escalators stories.)