Manhattan subway escalator buckles, shreds during morning commute

MIDTOWN, Manhattan (WABC) -- The MTA is investigating after a subway escalator buckled and shredded during the morning commute in Manhattan Monday.

It happened at the Fifth Avenue/53rd Street station E and M station around 9 a.m.

An image posted by Lyana Fernandez (@lolitapop9) on Twitter showed the mangled escalator, which she said happened right in front of her and could have injured someone.

"Somebody could have died," she said. "Somebody could have had their leg chopped off."

The escalator apparently detached from its track, chewing up chunks of metal and sending commuters running for safety.

"I saw people stumbling over the top of the escalator," Fernandez said. "The people that were on that particular escalator must be counting their blessings right now."

As MTA workers quickly gated off the top of the escalator, the agency released the following statement:

"We have personnel on scene fixing this escalator and helping to direct customers to another escalator and stairs. This is a very rare and troubling thing to see, we're glad there are no reported injuries, and a full investigation is underway."

According to a 2017 city comptroller audit, NYC Transit is responsible for keeping 184 escalators safe throughout its system. And in that audit, the agency was accused of failing in routine maintenance after a random sample of subway station elevators and escalators found 32 percent of them failed to pass at least one inspection.

"It looked really scary, and the fact that it didn't appear there were any injuries, just to me, is miraculous," Fernandez said. "This just can't happen. We can't be worried about this kind of danger simply to go to work in the morning."

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