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Mountain search continues for missing Shanghai student

MORE than 500 rescuers are braving strong wind, fog, hail and rain as they search for a Shanghai student who reportedly went missing on Monday while doing field research on a mountain in northeast China.

Xiong Yan, 18, was among 133 sophomore students with Northeast China Normal University's Life Sciences School on a field research trip in Jilin Province's Changbai Mountain from July 13 to 15, today's New Culture reported.

Xiong went missing around the Heifengkou area of the mountain, according to a teacher who noticed her walking alone in the direction of Heifengkou around 2pm. He followed but soon lost her. Around 4pm, when teachers counted students, Xiong was absent. They immediately alerted police.

Xiong didn't have a mobile phone or other supplies with her when she went missing, according to her teachers.

She had left her mobile phone at the base camp as students were told the phones could be dangerous during thunderstorms on the mountain. She was so tired that a male student had offered to carry her backpack when going down the mountain.

More than 500 police and firefighters have joined the search, combing more than 1,200 square kilometers, school officials said at a press conference yesterday.

Most advanced equipment, except a helicopter, has been used in the rescue effort, according to Northeast China Normal University's vice Party secretary Ma Shang.

The students started from a snack bar on the mountain's northern slope and ascended to Heifengkou, a forested area. From Heifengkou, they continued climbing to Heaven Pool at the peak after passing an alpine tundra zone.

The route is considered safe as no one has ever been reported missing before, according to Ma.

The school has used the Changbai Mountain as its field research base for more than two decades because of its rich plants, according to Ma. Field research is a compulsory course for the Life Science School students, which accounts for 6 academic points.

To reinforce safety, teachers gave security instructions to the students four times before the field trip, Ma added.

Xiong was a good student, according to the Life Sciences School's Party secretary Liu Duo.

According to rescuers, Xiong could have got lost or fallen off the mountain. They also said there was a slight possibility she may have been criminally attacked.

Her father and aunt have arrived at the mountain, Jilin-based New Culture report said.

Other students have returned to the school. They are receiving psychological counseling organized by the school.

Elsewhere, 70-plus students from Hong Kong and Chinese mainland who had been reported missing on a field trip in Qinghai Province earlier yesterday have been found, Xinhua news agency reported today.

No casualties were reported.

The students from the University of Hong Kong, Wuhan University and Lanzhou University were found around 11pm yesterday in Wuwei City of Qinghai's neighboring Gansu Province.

It is not clear whether Macau students - who were also among those reported missing - were with those who have been found, Xinhua said. The report didn't say whether all those reported missing have been found.

The students majoring in geology were reported lost in Menyuan Hui Autonomous County of Qingha's Haibei Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, according to the report.


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