A Chinese mother heroically saved her son moments before being killed inside an escalator, and security footage of the tragic incident has just emerged.
WARNING: This video may be disturbing to some viewers.
In the brief footage, the woman, identified by local media as Xiang Liujuan, and her young son, nicknamed Tongtong, are seen riding to the top of a shopping mall escalator.
The two were at the AZG Mall in the central Chinese city of Jingzhou, home to about 5 million people.
The 30-year-old mom, wearing a white shirt and black skirt, lifts her son as they prepare to step off. Two female mall employees are waiting near the top, having realized moments before that the escalator was having problems, local news outlets reported.
But as the two get to the top, a metal panel on the edge of the escalator suddenly collapses, and Xiang falls into the gap.
Xiang manages to push her young son away from the chasm and the two women grab him – right before she disappears inside the escalator.
The employees tried to pull the woman to safety, but were unsuccessful.
The woman's husband, Zhang Wei, witnessed everything and "almost collapsed," his uncle, Ke Qingjie, told local news.
Xiang's family members told The Paper, a popular media outlet in China, that she was warned the escalator was malfunctioning when she was already halfway up — despite reports that there were signs it was broken.
The malfunction led to a four-hour rescue Sunday afternoon, with firefighters declaring the woman dead after they finally managed to cut open the escalator, CNN reported, citing police.
An investigation found that staff had realized minutes before the incident that the escalator was malfunctioning, but didn't take actions to examine it.
Chen Guanxin, who led the investigation as head of the city's Work Safety Administration, said during a news conference that the escalator wasn't under maintenance when the incident happened, local media reported.
Local outlets also reported that workers allegedly forgot to secure the panel with screws after doing repairs on the escalator.
The woman's family hopes for the story to be publicized to spread awareness of the tragedy and criticize the mall where the incident occurred.
"Facing the loss of a lively human being, our whole family is shocked and unable to react," her sister-in-law wrote in a blog post. "We don't know how to save all the proof about my brother's wife's suffering, so what we can do is to count on the media to record what happened."
Distressed witnesses took to Weibo, China's version of Twitter, to express anger over the incident.
People also posted photos from the scene, including one of the woman's little boy, who reportedly kept asking, "Where is my mom?"
A few similar malfunctions with escalators have occurred in China in the last few years, with 13 injured after an incident in Shanghai last year after an escalator reversed direction, and a 2011 escalator malfunction killing a teenager in Beijing and injuring at least 28.
A longer security camera video of the incident has been released and shows that the two staff members in the video tested the escalator, almost fell into it, but didn't think to stop it from running. One stepped onto the panel to test it, then warned Xiang as she got close, telling her there was a problem with the escalator. Shortly after, Xiang was killed.
Additional reporting by BuzzFeed News reporter Beimeng Fu.