Girl dies in balloon accident
NG KANG CHUNG and BILLY WONG
A Hong Kong tourist died in Guangdong yesterday when a gas-filled balloon on which she was riding slipped its moorings and drifted away.
The body of Chan Man-ling, 17, was found more than 40 kilometres away after heavy fog made it impossible to track the balloon, part of an amusement park ride in Panyu City.
Chan had left Hong Kong on Tuesday for a two-day visit to Guangzhou and Panyu with her mother and elder sister.
When the 39-strong group arrived at the Fantasy Film City park in Panyu yesterday Chan insisted on trying the balloon ride, even though her friends told her it was too dangerous.
The balloon carries one person at a time, suspended from a seat beneath, and is tethered to the ground by a winch. But as Chan was rising into the air, the rope became loose and the balloon drifted into the fog.
Friends said it was obvious the girl was not aware of the danger, smiling and waving to them as she drifted off.
A Panyu City government spokesman said the fog made it impossible to use a helicopter to track her.
They alerted security bureaus across the county in attempts to find the girl.
Patricia Ho Yuk-ling, executive manager of tour organiser Hong Thai Citizens Travel Services, said they received a call from the Dongguan Security Bureau at about 4 pm saying Chan's body had been found.
A spokeswoman for the amusement park refused to comment on the accident, saying it had gained a government licence and had complied with government safety standards.