Geography students safe after scare

PUBLISHED : Friday, 17 July, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 17 July, 2009, 12:00am

More than 70 students and teachers from a Hong Kong university and two mainland universities were confirmed safe after earlier being reported missing while on a study tour of a high-altitude area in the northwestern province of Qinghai .

A search by dozens of rescuers was launched in Menyuan Hui autonomous county, Haibei Tibetan autonomous prefecture in Qinghai, after the group was reported missing at about 8pm.

An official said the group - from the University of Hong Kong, Wuhan University and Lanzhou University - had lost their way while traversing a mountain on the border between Qinghai and Gansu provinces.

They later managed to find the way out and arrived in Wuwei city, Gansu, last night.

A University of Hong Kong spokeswoman said the 11 students from its geography department were in the group and they were safe in Gansu. A group leader told Cable TV they were returning to their hotel, which they expected to reach at about 1am today.

Ng Cho-nam, associate professor of geography at HKU in Hong Kong, said the group was on its way down from a mountain glacier when dense fog and heavy rain stopped them from going further.

Professor Ng said that one of the HKU professors in the group, who did not make the mountain trip, alerted the Public Security Bureau when the students failed to return to the hotel as scheduled. The bureau alerted rescue teams and a search was launched. Meanwhile, the Hong Kong government's office in Beijing contacted the mainland authorities to find out more about the case.

The group, which arrived in Lanzhou on Wednesday, was on a trip to study northwestern China.