Tourist stranded after gale damages glass bridge in China

Several pieces of glass from the deck of a glass-bottom bridge at a resort in north-east China's Jilin province were blown off by strong winds on Friday, sparking online discussions about the safety of such bridges. PHOTO: SINA WEIBO
Several pieces of glass from the deck of a glass-bottom bridge at a resort in north-east China's Jilin province were blown off by strong winds on Friday, sparking online discussions about the safety of such bridges. PHOTO: SINA WEIBO

CHANGCHUN (Jilin) • A tourist was stranded on a glass-bottom bridge on Friday at a resort in north-east China's Jilin province after it was damaged by a gale, raising public concerns over the safety of the growing number of such bridges across the country.

Several pieces of deck glass from the 100m-high bridge were blown off by winds gusting at a speed of up to 150kmh at the Piyan Mountain in the city of Longjing, according to the city government.

Guided by firefighters, police, forestry and tourism workers, the tourist managed to crawl to safety. He was taken to a hospital and is receiving psychological counselling.

The incident has sparked discussions online, with over four million views on Twitter-like Sina Weibo.

"This is exactly why I dare not step on a bridge like that," wrote a netizen named "Wadetian".

"How often does the bridge undergo maintenance?" asked another netizen.

Glass-bottom bridges are becoming increasingly popular in China's mountain resorts as a way to woo tourists seeking novelty and adventure. According to Earth magazine published by the Geological Museum of China, at least 60 such bridges had been or were being built across the country as of 2016.

In mountainous provinces like Jiangxi, Hunan and Yunnan, glass bridges are particularly common.

The most famous is at Zhangjiajie, a tourist destination in Hunan, where a 430m-long, 6m-wide bridge hangs 300m above the ground between two steep cliffs.

"So many glass deck bridges have been built in recent years and are very popular with tourists. But how can we ensure their safety?" said a netizen surnamed Li.

Some local governments have taken early action: In 2018, Hebei province released technical standards for glass bridges and walkways, setting guidelines on materials, location, design, construction as well as the use of such bridges.

For example, glass bridges should not be built in areas with high seismic activity and must be closed during bad weather and natural disasters. Also, the number of pedestrians on such bridges and walkways will be limited to no more than three per sq m.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 09, 2021, with the headline 'Tourist stranded after gale damages glass bridge in China'. Subscribe