Prisoner of a hydrogen balloon, he is carried in the air for more than 300 km

Author: Clark Tos
2022-09-12 16:21:02

A man who lost control of his hydrogen balloon while harvesting pine nuts in China has been found and rescued after landing in a forest two days later, more than 300 kilometers from where he left.

Credit: Suki Shen / YouTube

The man, surnamed Hu, was working alongside a colleague in Hailin county, Heilongjiang province, on Sunday when they lost control of the ball. As his colleague jumped to safety, Hu missed his chance and drifted away. He was not found until 9 a.m. local time on Tuesday when, after spotting the signal from his mobile phone, a rescue team of more than 500 local police and firefighters spotted his balloon stuck in a tree, the Global Times newspaper reported on Wednesday.

“I almost gave up. Thanks to the rescuers, otherwise I wouldn't be alive.' Hu told Chinese state broadcaster CCTV. He also told investigators that he had been very cold and hungry during this particularly long ordeal. However, he is largely unharmed, suffering only minor injuries to his waist. Even without a ball, harvesting pine nuts in China can be a dangerous business. Traditionally, pickers wear spiked shoes and can climb trees up to 20 meters high, and the accidents can be fatal. Pine nuts are found inside pine cones and are a frequent ingredient in dishes served in the northeast of the country.

According to CCTV, rescuers were able to contact the man by mobile phone the next morning and asked him to slowly deflate the balloon to land safely. It took another day for it to reach the ground in the Fangzheng area near the border with Russia. An official from the Hailin Forestry Administration Co. confirmed the balloon incident on Thursday and described Hu as being in his 40s. He said Hu was recovering in hospital but declined to give further details.

Credit: Google Maps

Credit: CCTV

Frequent accidents

The use of hydrogen or helium balloons to harvest pine nuts has become more common in China in recent years and there are occasional reports of pickers being blown away, but never as far as Hu. In 2019, two men collecting pine cones in China's Changbai Mountains reportedly lost control of their balloon and drifted 10 kilometers before landing safely and being arrested for violating air regulations. In another case, in 2017, a nut picker went missing near the North Korean border after his balloon broke loose.

Source : The Guardian