Chinese man rescued 2 days after floating away on gas balloon

Mr Hu Yongxu got stuck in a hydrogen balloon, beginning a nerve-wracking, 300km journey in the air. PHOTO ILLUSTRATION: PEXELS

BEIJING - A Chinese man has been rescued after floating in the air for over a day after he lost control of a hydrogen balloon that he was riding to harvest pine nuts, state media reported.

The man, identified as Mr Hu Yongxu, had been picking pine cones in north-east China's Heilongjiang province last Sunday with a fellow worker when the balloon "suddenly rose uncontrollably", official broadcaster CCTV reported on Tuesday.

Mr Hu's colleague jumped out of the basket in time, but Mr Hu got stuck, beginning a nerve-wracking, 300km journey in the air.

Mr Hu immediately called his brother-in-law, saying he was afraid of the height and that "everything he saw looked like ants", according to an interview with the brother-in-law by state-run Zhejiang Daily on Wednesday.

Video footage from multiple Chinese media outlets show a pale balloon bobbing in the sky over pine forests.

CCTV said the police made contact with Mr Hu the following day, and instructed him over the phone on how to safely deflate and lower the balloon.

Mr Hu landed successfully in a forested area, but rescuers continued to search for him as his "phone location service was inaccurate", CCTV said.

He was finally rescued on Tuesday morning, and is "in good condition, aside from light injuries on his back", CCTV reported. AFP

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