Chinese woman escalator incident
A Chinese woman pushes her son to safety before falling inside an escalator Reuters

The dramatic moment when a Chinese woman pushed her two-year-old child to safety before falling to her death as an escalator collapsed beneath her feet has been captured on security camera.

Xiang Liujuan, 30, was reaching the top of a department store's staircase in the central city of Jingzhou with her son when the landing platform suddenly gave way.

Surveillance camera footage shows her pushing the toddler into the arms of a shopping assistant standing near the escalator's end, while she dangles in the void.

Moments later, store attendants unsuccessfully attempt to grab her arm to drag her to safety and she is quickly swallowed by the still-moving machinery. Her body was retrieved hours later, trapped inside the escalator's inner workings.

Xiang was shopping with her husband when the incident happened, according to local media, who also reported maintenance works had recently been carried out on the escalator and that staff might have failed to property secure the metal panel covering the arrival gap.