Published on : Thursday, October 4, 2018
Authorities have shut down a high-altitude theme park attraction in southwestern part of China owing to safety concerns following a hair-raising video of a tourist’s lucky escape when his harness had broken off, and it has gone viral on social media.
An investigation conducted by local government officials found staff at the Wansheng Ordovician Theme Park near Chongqing had not fastened the safety cord properly on Monday when a tourist, who was not identified, did the “extreme leap”, as reported by a local news media platform on Wednesday.
Footage of the incident shows the man leaping across a giant walkway suspended in mid-air with gaping holes between each plank.
As he made the final jump, the rope securing him to an overhead frame breaks from his safety harness, just as he reaches the opposite podium.
The man appeared calm throughout, turning around and smiling after reaching the other side. About a second later he realises what has happened and is seen holding up the severed cable.
There is no safety net beneath the bridge, which is suspended over a sheer drop of 152 metres (500 feet) onto the rocks below.
But a staff member with the propaganda bureau at the Wansheng Economic Development Zone told a leading news media agency that the video was a publicity stunt aimed at raising the profile of the theme park.
That claim was met with outrage on social media.
Soon after the negative comments started piling up, the censors made some of them unreadable on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter.
The theme park, which is located in a scenic area 100km outside Chongqing, is popular with adrenaline junkies for its extreme thrills. It contains the world’s longest glass footbridge, suspended 120 metres above the ground, as well as a death-defying rope swing on the edge of a 300-metre-high cliff.
It is named after the prehistoric Ordovician period when the spectacular karst stones of the Wansheng ecological area were formed, 465 million to 600 million years ago.
Local authorities said they were continuing the investigation at the theme park. If convicted under public safety laws, the park could face fines of at least 10,000 yuan (US$1,500).
China’s theme parks have been plagued by a number of safety scandals in recent years but until now there had been no reported incidents at the Wansheng Ordovician Theme Park, which gets several thousand visitors per day during peak season.