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Woman killed in elevator accident in Kanazawa; police raid Schindler office

56 Comments

A hotel cleaner in Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture, was crushed to death in front of her colleague when she stepped into a moving elevator, police said Thursday.

The 63-year-old woman, identified as Toshiko Maeda, was trapped between the floor of the elevator and the ceiling of the floor at the Apa Hotel Kanazawa-Ekimae. "The doors opened and she went to get in, but the cage was still moving up," said a police official. "She stumbled over the rising lift floor and fell."

"The cage kept ascending, trapping her between the ceiling and the elevator floor," the official said, adding a colleague standing behind her witnessed the accident which occurred just before 3 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon.

Maeda was taken to hospital in a state of cardiopulmonary arrest, where she was confirmed dead a short time later.

The lift's manufacturer, Switzerland-based Schindler, said in a statement it was cooperating with a police probe into the incident, adding the elevator in question was installed in 1998. It said it intends to carry out inspections of all 5,500 of its elevators currently in use in Japan, including 80 of the same model as that involved in Wednesday's incident,

Since 2009, Japanese law has required lifts to be equipped with a brake that prevents them moving when the doors are open.

One of Schindler's lifts was involved in a fatal incident in 2006 when a 16-year-old schoolboy was crushed to death.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism said Thursday it will conduct an investigation into the incident to find out why the elevator rose while its door was still open..

Late Thursday, police raided the Nagoya office of Schindler and the elevator maintenance firm.

© Japan Today/AFP

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

56 Comments
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oh man... poor worker... heartbreaking

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Is the make of lift relevant? I see it isn't a Japanese manufacturer.

-6 ( +4 / -10 )

It's relevant within the article but certainly does not belong in the headline.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Why the need to mention the brand in the headline? Wonder if the elevator was made by say Hitachi whether that would make the headline too..J media just immediately implying inferiority of foreign products here.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

Is the make of lift relevant? I see it isn't a Japanese manufacturer.

I think there was another incident with this company a few years back.

Ah...here it is, 2006:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minato_Ward_2006_elevator_accident

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20060618a4.html

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Not really understanding the details here. Did the elevator drop a few feet all of a sudden? If the doors were open and the elevator started moving at its normal speed, it would seem that the top or bottom of the elevator, depending on which way it moved, would have prevented the woman from entering if she was walking in.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

So it wasn't a Japanese elevator maker and this the brand gets mentioned in the title. As if it was typical of Schindler elevators as opposed to say all the Toshiba, Hitachi or Mitsubishi elevators. Give me a break.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Apparently she attempted to board the elevator when the doors opened, but fell down as the elevator started to move, before the doors were completely closed, and thus was trapped half-in, half-out and between the bottom of the doorway and the top of the compartment.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I wonder if the upgrades were the responsibility of Schindler or the hotel. I would think that the inspectors notified both Schindler and the hotel of the upgrade requirements, so why isn't the hotel isn't named in the article? I would think they're both equally culpable.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Schindler products, if I'm not mistaken, have had a number of accidents associated with them. There was at least one more elevator incident within the past few years (mentioned in the article), and were the revolving doors also Schindler?

Anyway, if it was Schindler's job to carry out the maintenance and upkeep on the elevators and other products then they shoulder the blame. If it was up to the building to have it done, then THEY shoulder the blame. I suspect the latter -- or at the very least, the latter is required to book the arrangements with the former, but there's no detail on that. The contents do seem to hint that Schindler carries out maintenance of its products.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

WakarimasenNov. 01, 2012 - 01:51PM JST

Is the make of lift relevant? I see it isn't a Japanese manufacturer.

ben4shortNov. 01, 2012 - 01:55PM JST

It's relevant within the article but certainly does not belong in the headline.

It's actually irrelevant to either the story or headline. The issue was that it was an elevator out of building and maintenance code, so the company in charge should be listed, NOT the manufacturer. It's like saying that Japan Steel bolt came loose in a Toyota manufactured car because toyota was asked to make the bolt hole bigger by the government. The original manufacturer has nothing to do with it if it was up to specifications at the time of manufacture (which clearly it was).

So, What company installed the elevator? What was the company maintaining the elevator? Those two should have their names plastered all over the article and headline.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

Schindlers Lifts.

2 ( +8 / -7 )

smithinjapanNov. 01, 2012 - 02:56PM JST

If it was up to the building to have it done, then THEY shoulder the blame. I suspect the latter -- or at the very least, the latter is required to book the arrangements with the former, but there's no detail on that. T

Much like in the US, the elevators are owned by specialty companies. When inspections are carried out, the elevator company is the one to get the report, so the building and building managers probably didn't have much to do with it (though they could have asked what was taking so long)

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Schindler products, if I'm not mistaken, have had a number of accidents associated with them. There was at least one more elevator incident within the past few years

Looks like SOMEONE hasn't read all the comments.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

An elevator should never start moving when the doors are not closed yet. design flaw?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Dennis BauerNov. 01, 2012 - 03:41PM JST

An elevator should never start moving when the doors are not closed yet. design flaw?

Passenger elevators do have that feature, but industrial and service elevators sometimes don't. Additionally, poor service and use of incorrect replacement parts can be a problem. The Minato Ward elevator incident was similarly an issue with the maintenance of the elevator rather than the elevator design, as the elevator attempted to brake but was unable to because the brakes had been improperly maintained.

The elevator here might actually be a service elevator, but it's unknown since the article only specifies the minimum information. However, the woman's job does fit the bill for service/industrial elevator use.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

Why is the media protecting this hotel and the maintenance company? Their names should be made public unless they want to be sued by Schindler for defamation, which it is as this is beyond flagrantly anti-foreign. Simple naming all parties involved would make things fair enough.

-6 ( +3 / -9 )

Just the word "Schindler" elevator revives instant bad memories for Japanese people because of the earlier 2006 accident and the huge amount of press at the time. Months and months of it, passing the blame backwards and forwards.

Regardless of who is to blame, as a headline within Japan the evocative word "Schindler" is instantly attention-grabbing. People will be going: "Not again!!!?"

3 ( +3 / -0 )

YES the maker of lift is absolutely relevant. If a cell phone explodes in pocket we need to know the brand. If trains derails from track then we need to now the company. If an aeroplane does aerobics in air then we need to know which Air These all matters because brand/company are responsible for their manufacture and maintenance.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Jeez what a terrifying and horribly painful way to die. Poor lady.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

In_japanNov. 01, 2012 - 04:34PM JST

YES the maker of lift is absolutely relevant. If a cell phone explodes in pocket we need to know the brand. If trains derails from track then we need to now the company. If an aeroplane does aerobics in air then we need to know which Air These all matters because brand/company are responsible for their manufacture and maintenance.

Cellphones are completely irrelevant as there are only two parties. And in fact, THE BATTERY USUALLY ISN'T EVEN MADE BY THE PHONE MANUFACTURER! Completely different situation here.

No, those DON'T have to be responsible for maintenance. For some things, like airplanes, the companies that own the planes contract out the manufacturers for major repairs and maintenance assistance, but they are usually not involved in everyday maintenance. In the case of train derailments, the problem is usually the track and conductor, not hardware failure within the train.

Do you ever ask yourself who paved your walkway when you trip over a broken concrete slab? And who do you complain to, the guy who installed it, the guy who owns it, or the guy who made the slab? Usually you go for the guy who owns it, and then the guy who installed it. You could care less about the manufacturer, unless that slab was made with gunpowder and blew up in your face. Considering it had passed inspections several times until 2009 (warning given but still passed), it was likely not a manufacturing error.

-9 ( +2 / -11 )

nandakamanda

" Just the word "Schindler" elevator revives instant bad memories for Japanese people because of the earlier 2006 accident "

Yes, and you can expect another Schindler feeding frenzy. But back then, it turned out that Schindler had contracted the servicing to some Japanese company who did a lousy job at it. Would not be surprised if it is the same now.

Anyway, I´ll look at elevators with more suspicision now.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I'm confused... it says she was crushed when the lift floor hit the ceiling of the lift shaft? Are they saying that the entire lift was crushed with her in it? How is that even possible? Surely lifts have metal walls and masses of gear on the roof?

RIP poor woman... what a horrible way to die... not that there are any good ways.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Thunderbird2Nov. 01, 2012 - 05:08PM JST

Surely lifts have metal walls and masses of gear on the roof?

Most elevator shafts are concrete, and just have metal rails for breaking. Elevators themselves are usually metal frames with lightweight covers on top (to make them look nice, and not let things fall out). And most of them don't have gears or fancy things like that (usually a few pullies if they need gearing, though cheaper ones it's all in the motor). There's a reason they use counterbalances, that gets rid of the need for massive motors and easily breakable gears. From the updated article, it seems that this once again is a brake issue, since the elevator never came to a complete stop.

Sure there are gears in the machines, but not for load, as that's what I read the post as.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

@Thunderbird

I don't think they mean the actual top of the lift shaft; she'd had to have been standing on top of the lift in that case. They mean she was trapped between the floor of the lift and the ceiling of the 5th floor (or whichever floor she was on).

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Basroil: "It's like saying that Japan Steel bolt came loose in a Toyota manufactured car because toyota was asked to make the bolt hole bigger by the government."

I'd say it's more like the US making Toyota the focus of an incident in which a US driver had an accident in his 1984 Toyota after failing to get the tune-ups demanded by the insurance company (true, he wouldn't be able to renew insurance if he didn't, but you know what I mean).

4 ( +4 / -0 )

@ basroil: You are missing a point here. Installing a lift/elevator comes with annual maintenance fees. There is no way that hotel staff can do maintenance. If the elevator is from "XYZ" company then a technician from that company OR XYZ approved technician only should do the maintenance. Otherwise it won't be covered under warranty / guarantee / insurance stuffs. I don't know how do you in your country but this is Japan. You cannot just ask a local technician. Got the point? so dragging the maker is relevant.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

In_japanNov. 01, 2012 - 05:41PM JST

You are missing a point here. Installing a lift/elevator comes with annual maintenance fees.

Not from the manufacturer, only the installer would charge such fees, and then it's the installer's problem (as long as it is not a design issue that has already been recalled).

There is no way that hotel staff can do maintenance.

Of course they can't, that's why most buildings don't even own the elevators!

If the elevator is from "XYZ" company then a technician from that company OR XYZ approved technician only should do the maintenance. Otherwise it won't be covered under warranty / guarantee / insurance stuffs.

Exactly. But you are forgetting that those companies ARE (almost always) NOT THE MANUFACTURER. The companies that own the elevators are in charge of the elevators. You can check the sticker above the buttons (or a plate for high end ones) for contact information to the company that manages the elevators.

I don't know how do you in your country but this is Japan.

Apparently you don't know Japan too well. It is actually almost identical to other countries. And I live in Japan anyway, so I can tell you from experience that almost all the elevators here where I live belong to one of three or so companies, none of which manufacture them.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Directly or indirectly Schindler is culprit and will me asked to take responsibility for this matter regardless of the debate going on here!!

The lift’s manufacturer, Switzerland-based Schindler, said in a statement it was cooperating with a police probe into the incident, adding the elevator in question was installed in 1998. It said it intends to carry out inspections of all 5,500 of its elevators currently in use in Japan, including 80 of the same model as that involved in Wednesday’s incident,

Question is why the inspections are made after someone has to lose their beloved one? The colleague will remember this incident for rest of her life and will cry for being helpless. RIP lady!!!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I feel so sorry for the co-worker who had to witness this. Just awful. She was probably retired and working a part-time job just for extra cash perhaps for her grandchildren. So sad.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

What a bad way to die, especially on Halloween. My prayers go out to her family and her loved ones. I hope there was something left to recognize at her funeral. The news did mention, crushed to death.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Indeed ...poor lady..RIP Btw,, the cops moved in pretty quickly on this one ...interesting how when a major Japanese company is involved in some wrong doing it takes the cops weeks or months to" raid" their offices by which time of course anything incriminating is disposed of.. "selective efficiency " on display here.

Moderator: That is absolutely false. Please refrain from posting misinformation.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Schindler's List o)

-7 ( +0 / -7 )

The woman should never have been able to step into a moving elevator. I'm afraid all the elevators with this design will have to be replaced.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Now that the story has been updated it makes much more sense.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

There are frequently deadly elevator accidents including people opening the doors and walking into an empty lift shaft. In Britain everyone involved including the hotel would be prosecuted.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Late Thursday, police raided the Nagoya office of Schindler and the elevator maintenance firm.

So what is the maintenance firm's name? Pretty important information there. Want to make sure my apartment doesn't use them.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Quote: "Since 2009, Japanese law has required lifts to be equipped with a brake that prevents them moving when the doors are open."

This is a secondary back-up brake apparently, according to the evening's TV news. The law does not apply to elevators older than or installed before 2009, and there are said to be 40,000 of the older type in use across Japan. For a number of reasons, it is not feasible to uprate most of these elevators. One is the high cost. Two is the time it takes to do the work with the elevator out of order. In old folks' homes, for example, they just cannot run the place with no elevator for a few days. The lift the poor woman was caught in today was of this older, no back-up brake, pre-law, exempt type.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Without a full investigation it will be impossible to know what caused the accident.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

This kind of thing should not happen if the elevator is properly installed and serviced. It seems as though somebody is asleep at the switch. Again.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

What a way to go. Sad really. At least she didn't suffer.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Late Thursday, police raided the Nagoya office of Schindler and the elevator maintenance firm.

Seriously...? this is where police focus their efforts...? They raided their offices...?

Absolutely it's a tragic accident that after a through scientific based investigation, they will no doubt discover the cause. But Police do NOT fit into this picture, unless someone purposely pushed that lady into the elevator, or intentionally rigged that elevator with the intent to maim or kill someone... This is why Japan has so many problems... They can't seem to understand the difference between civil and criminal matters... The Courts and insurance companies handle CIVIL Matters, Police on the other hand handle CRIMINAL Matters.. There's a big difference... And unless there is evidence of foul-play, this is a CIVIL Matter.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

@China

You have it wrong here. A person has died, thus police needs to be involved. Nothing strange, this would be done in any country.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Ch1n4Sailor:

But Police do NOT fit into this picture

They do, because the company is suspected of death caused by negligence of business conduct, which is apparently a crime.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

You have it wrong here. A person has died, thus police needs to be involved. Nothing strange, this would be done in any country.

In western, I.E... Civilized Countries, sure the police would show up at the scene, at the time of the accident, and within 30 minutes or so they would make a determination that either there was evidence of Foul-Play or NOT, and if there was evidence of Foul-Play, Yes They would do an investigation, but NOT over Negligence...

Negligence is a CIVIL Matter.... PERIOD... This is why companies that Manufacture, or provide Maintenance / Service to these types of heavy Equipment are required to be Licensed, Insured, or Bonded....

Negligence is exactly that, negligence, That's why they have Insurance.

JN Police need to do some REAL work and stop wasting time doing things like this, where they have zero expertise, and go after Organized Crime.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

i think Schindler can close their Japanese Branch after this.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

this is a terrible accident and I feel awful for the poor woman. Just to clarify the corporate responsibility aspect though:

Basroil: >Late Thursday, police raided the Nagoya office of Schindler and the elevator maintenance firm. So what is the maintenance firm's name? Pretty important information there. Want to make sure my apartment doesn't use them.<

From a corporate responsibility standpoint, Schindler is responsible for the accident because they contracted the maintenance company to inspect the elevator. Even if the maintenance company was the one guilty of negligence and should be considered the culprit from an ethological standpoint, legally Schindler is the one to blame.

A lot of other elevator companies in Japan handle maintenance internally, however Schindler contracts it out.

I am sure this will be a devastating blow to Schindler here in the Japanese market and will undoubtedly crush their business.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

never go there. rip

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Late Thursday, police raided the Nagoya office of Schindler and the elevator maintenance firm.

Why did they raid it? I get an image of pistols drawn, and swat teams on staircases waiting for the battering ram to be brought up.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

JapanGaijin12Nov. 02, 2012 - 09:37AM JST

From a corporate responsibility standpoint, Schindler is responsible for the accident because they contracted the maintenance company to inspect the elevator. Even if the maintenance company was the one guilty of negligence and should be considered the culprit from an ethological standpoint, legally Schindler is the one to blame.

Do you have any evidence of this? From what I've seen, elevator maintenance companies have nothing to do with the manufacturer and are contracted by the owners of the elevator. In fact, the owners of the elevators are usually the same company that does maintenance.

In the 2006 case, this was the issue, where Schindler didn't do any maintenance and had never been called in to do any. Whether this elevator is maintained by Schindler in any way remains to be known, and all indication is that they didn't do maintenance and rather the Japanese company being protected by the media was entirely responsible.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

its an old elevator, so the responsibility lies with the maintenance company, not schindler

0 ( +2 / -2 )

" police raided the Nagoya office of Schindler and the elevator maintenance firm."

Those who wonder about that haven't lived in Japan very long. Showing hundreds of police going into a building and coming out carrying boxes is standard fare here.

For some strange reason the media are always on the scene.

For those of us who weren't here, Schindler co was pretty well crucified for weeks after the last one. And one of the reasons was because they didn't immediately call a press conference and bow and cry.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I must be suffering from elevator paranoia because I always wait a few seconds before i enter and leave the elevator and look carefully to see if there is some problem. Hopefully, it won't be. The elevator in my office building is always under maintenance by a company that leaves a maintenance paper posted inside it. Hopefully they did a good job.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

To all if you dig hard enough you will find accidents on every major elevator corp. same as a car corporation. Just as you would by a Toyota you can take it to a thousand places for service not just the manufacture. An average elevator in a hotel can make 10 thousand to 20 thousand starts in 24 hours multiply that by weeks months and years. Schindler has was founded in 1874 so let's assume the do have some good products being the number 1 in the world in escalators and number two in elevators. Any injury or death is tragic. Lets wait for the outcome and stop the bashing.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

There is an economical device (cost between 700-1500 U.S., called the FSSG that prevents these types of accidents, here is a link to the website:

http://www.fssg.us/

0 ( +0 / -0 )

My prayers goes to the family of the woman. Employers must run elevator safety campaigns in the wake of recent accidents in Japan and around the world.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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