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October 22, 2012

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Tibet hike turns fatal before 31st birthday for Shanghai woman

THE body of a Shanghai woman, who planned to spend her 31st birthday yesterday in Lhasa but died of high altitude disease two days ago on a hiking trip, was rushed to the Tibet Autonomous Region capital last night, courtesy of the efforts of fellow travelers.

Travelers from across the country were hoping to help the intrepid hiker realize her dream as well as make it easier for her parents to fly to Lhasa from Shanghai to see their only daughter one last time.

Volunteers launched an online campaign to raise money for air tickets for her old parents, who left Shanghai yesterday afternoon for Lhasa.

The woman, Jin Ling, quit her job two years ago to travel across the country.

She started her trip to Tibet with three other hikers she met on the journey and wrote on her microblog on the Twitter-like that she planned to celebrate her 31st birthday yesterday in Lhasa.

But her companions said Jin suffered from altitude sickness last week, coughing incessantly amid high fever. Despite warnings from local doctors and her companions, Jin continued her trip but fainted and then died at a remote frontier station about 1,000 kilometers from her destination.

Thousands of netizens expressed their condolence by replying with a symbol of candle on Jin's last Weibo post, written last Wednesday, saying: "October 21 is my birthday. I may be in Lhasa that day."

The hikers told Shanghai Evening Post that they decided to deliver Jin's body to Lhasa as it was almost impossible for her parents to come and see their daughter at the remote frontier station.

The hikers said they had to spend a lot of time persuading passing car owners to transport Jin's body, but they refused, believing the dead woman would bring them bad luck, the newspaper said.

A funeral parlor in Lhasa charged the hikers 30,000 yuan to dispatch a car to collect Jin's body for the 1,000-plus kilometer trip, which her parents, in their sixties, could hardly afford.

The hikers then went online with their campaign to raise money. One of Jin's companions said the response to the campaign was good and they had raised more than 15,000 yuan to book air tickets for her parents to fly to Lhasa.

A hiker, surnamed Wu, volunteered to collect her body and take it to Lhasa. Although poor weather conditions slowed him down, Wu managed to arrive in the city yesterday.

Jin's mishap is a lesson for enthusiastic but sometimes rash white-collar hikers, doctors warned.

A medical professor surnamed Li at Zhongshan Hospital told Shanghai Evening Post that Jin may have died of upper respiratory infections and high altitude pulmonary edema.

Li warned that people who have heart and respiratory diseases are more likely to suffer high altitude pulmonary edema, which may be potent in combination with other diseases.


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