Woman, 81, shelters in pit while lost on mountain in southern China for five days

Luo Xilian was out collecting tea seeds on her own when she fell and couldn’t find her way home

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 17 October, 2017, 5:22pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 17 October, 2017, 5:22pm

An 81-year-old woman is recovering from minor injuries after she went missing on a mountain in southern China for five days before she was rescued.

Luo Xilian slipped and fell down a slope as she was collecting tea seeds on her own from a terraced field in Hunan province, near Shaoyang, on October 9, the Xiaoxiang Morning Herald reported on Tuesday.

With injuries to her hands, arm and shoulder, she became disoriented and could not find her way home – walking in the wrong direction as night fell.

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Luo’s husband told the newspaper he was unable to reach his wife by phone but waited until the third day to report her as missing.

Police officers and villagers formed a search party to look for the elderly woman, and an emergency rescue team was called in. Drones were also used in the search.

With nothing to eat, Luo was becoming weak and fatigued. She came across a one-metre pit – created during a recent burn-off of tea trees – and climbed into it, covering herself in grass and sheltering there for a night.

On the fourth day, she saw a drone overhead but her shouting and waving went unnoticed. Luo told the newspaper that by that stage she was weak with hunger and feeling the cold.

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The sight of the drone motivated her to keep trying to find her way home, but by the morning of the fifth day she was too exhausted to go any further.

But she was close – and two villagers found her in the afternoon. They gave her water and tinned Chinese rice porridge, and with a bit of help from rescuers she managed to walk, according to the report.

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A relieved and happy Luo returned home after she was given a medical check and treated for minor injuries.