Man trapped in balloon for 2 days drifts 300km in pine nut picking accident – National

A Chinese man has been rescued after being trapped in a hydrogen balloon for two days after detaching from a tree and floating away. The balloon eventually drifted over 300 kilometers before it could descend.

Why was he tied to a tree in a big balloon? He used it to harvest pine nuts.

The man was only identified by his last name, Hu, by Chinese state media. He and a colleague were picking pine nuts in a forest in northeast China’s Heilongjiang province on Sunday when they lost control of the balloon.

Hu’s partner was able to jump to the ground before the balloon sailed away, but Hu wasn’t so lucky.

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A rescue operation was launched to find the missing man, and state broadcaster CCTV said authorities were able to call Hu on his cell phone the next morning to help him. Rescuers instructed Hu to slowly deflate the balloon so it could land safely.

A day later, around 9 a.m. local time on Tuesday, a rescue team of more than 500 employees from the local police and fire department was able to trace Hu’s location by tracking his phone signal, the state-run Global Times reported. It had drifted more than 300 kilometers from where it started and got stuck in a tree on the way down.

Hu had landed in China’s Fangzheng region near the Russian border.

“I almost gave up,” Hu told CCTV. “Thanks to the rescuers, otherwise I would not be alive.”

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Hu was found in good health but suffered from lower back pain, possibly from standing in the balloon the entire time, CCTV reported. He also told interviewers that he felt cold and hungry during the two-day ordeal.

An official from the publicity department of the Hailin Forestry Administration Co., who gave only his last name Fu, confirmed the balloon incident Thursday and described Hu as over 40 years old. He said Hu is recovering in a hospital but declined to give further details.

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Pine nuts are found in pine cones and are a common ingredient in dishes served in northeastern China.

It’s not uncommon for hydrogen or helium balloons to be used to harvest pine nuts in China, and in recent years there have been reports of other pickers being swept away.

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In 2019, two men picking pine cones in the Changbai Mountains reportedly drifted 10 kilometers after losing control of their balloon. They landed safely and were arrested for violating aviation regulations, CNN reported.

In 2017, a nut picker disappeared near the China-North Korea border after his balloon flew away.

Before the use of balloons became more common in recent years, nut pickers traditionally wore spiked shoes to climb trees to harvest. Pine trees can grow to around 20 meters tall and falls would sometimes be fatal.

– with files from The Associated Press

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc. Man trapped in balloon for 2 days drifts 300km in pine nut picking accident – National

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