Staff at a department store in China had noticed that the floor was loose five minutes before a woman was sucked into an escalator and crushed to death.

Video footage taken minutes before Xiang Liujuan, 30, fell to her death shows employees at the Anliang department store in Jingzhou, Hubei province, discovering the problem at the top of the escalator.

Chen Guaxin, director at Jingzhou Work Safety, a government body, told a press conference;

“Five minutes before the accident, staff discovered that the shaft cover on the end of the ascending escalator was loose,”

The women who found the loose flooring informed the management, but did not shut down the escalator.

Shenlong Elevator, the company that produced the machine, has also been criticised by the government.  According to the report, its shafts were prone to come loose.

The Xinhua news agency, quoting the government, said that 5 per cent of elevators and escalators inspected this year had been found to have problems.

Since the death of Ms Xiang on Sunday, at least two more incidents have occurred. In one, a child got his arm trapped in an escalator’s handrail and might need to have it amputated; in the other a woman was killed in a lift after it suddenly began to rise as she walked out, trapping her head.