According to the Times of India, a 55-year-old man died and two people were seriously injured when an elevator cable snapped in a marriage hall in Korrukkupet on Sunday afternoon. According to the report, the elevator plunged from the third floor to the ground floor after the cables gave way. It was unclear at the time of the report whether overspeed governors or other types of safety devices are required by any applicable elevator codes in India, however, according to the article, the elevator was only six months old.
Read the full story by the Times of India, published December 3, 2012.
A follow-up article by the New Indian Express, published December 7, 2012, revealed much greater detail regarding the circumstances of the accident.
According to that article, the victims were riding the elevator when it stopped suddenly and entrapped the victims. The victims signaled for help, and in an effort to free the entrapped passengers from the elevator, untrained employees of the wedding hall apparently went into the motor room and released the elevator’s brakes, sending the elevator into a free fall. Normally, the counterweight will cause the counterweight, not the elevator cab, to free fall, however, it is possible that with the weight of four or more passengers that the counterweight’s balance might be exceeded, causing the elevator to fall downwards when the brakes were released. Interestingly, the article notes that if the employees had “phased” (or stuttered) their release of the brake, the elevator would not have fallen and the victims would not have been injured.
The New Indian Express article also includes a quote from an official that investigated the accident that described the situation:
“In their anxiety to quickly bring the occupants of the lift out, men who were not properly trained or authorised to handle the system released the lever without realising that it could lead to a free fall.”