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Schindler Elevator K.K., the domestic subsidiary of the Swiss-based global elevator and escalator maker, said Tuesday that people in Japan were trapped inside its elevators 320 times in 2004.

Because the company is in charge of about 6,000 elevators nationwide, this means one out of every 19 Schindler elevators developed a problem that year in which passengers were trapped.

Schindler’s incident rate is three times that of other major elevator makers, according to the Japan Elevator Association, an industry body of 99 elevator and escalator makers and maintenance providers.

The association said there were about 9,000 incidents in which people were trapped in elevators made by five other major elevator makers in fiscal 2004, which ended in March 2005. The five makers service a total of 514,000 elevators.

That means one out of every 56 elevators made by those companies developed a problem in which passengers were trapped.

The five are Mitsubishi Electric Corp., Toshiba Elevator and Building Systems Corp., Hitachi Ltd., Fujitec Co. and Nippon Otis Elevator Co.

The Land, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry said detailed checks on each malfunction must be carried out because the makers differ on the definition of being trapped.

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