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Tourists who survive river ordeal return to Shanghai

THIRTEEN Shanghai hikers who survived a botched river crossing in eastern China's Zhejiang Province on Saturday returned to the city early this morning.

Tourist officials said the returned hikers were safe but some were still recovering from their ordeal in which three of their group and a guide were swept away in a swollen river, the Shanghai Evening News reported.

The local guide was found early yesterday morning and has been hospitalized.

Another two members from the Shanghai Highway Outdoor Sports Club stayed in Zhejiang to help with the search which involves 350 rescuers. Two backpacks believed to belong to two of the missing members have been found.

If the hikers were not hurt when washed away, they still have a chance of survival, said Professor Chen Shiyi, a sports medical expert from Fudan University.

Another 11 club members have rushed to Zhejiang to join in the search but the local tourism authority suggested they stay in the county capital and wait for information.

Xiao'ai, a group member, said they got caught in bad weather when they tried to cross Luxi Gorge in Jingning She Autonomous County of Lishui City, on the organizer's Website which reopened today after being closed for two days.

Xiao'ai said the group - 10 males and 8 females - was forced to turn back and cross a river to a nearby village.

Zhang Lin, who was at the last of the group, was washed away. The guide and two members Liu Nuo and Liu Yujie used a rope to try to rescue Zhang but were also flushed away.

Before the group set off they checked the weather conditions, which were supposed to be good.

"It was sunny with little dots of clouds," Xiao'ai wrote.

They reached Zhengkeng around 5am on Saturday and rechecked the route with the guide before departing at 6.20am for Linyu.

Shortly after the lunch, the weather changed and showers fell.

"I was heading the group," wrote Xiao'ai. "Our leader told me to turn back to the nearby Guiyuan Village."

They tried to wade through a river with a rope after the guide told them it was the only way to the village. Female members crossed the river first.

Zhang said he would be the last to ensure safety. But when it came to his turn to cross the river, the river suddenly swelled up, he slipped and fell into the water.

The guide, Liu Nuo and Liu Yujie threw a rope to Zhang but he could not hold on and was washed away.

The three started to get into difficulties and the hikers borrowed another rope from another excursion group from Suzhou.

But the rope was not long enough and the three were washed away.

"I am exhausted... I shall pray (for the missing)," Xiao'ai wrote.


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