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Chinese man floats 190 miles over two days after getting stuck in an untethered hydrogen balloon

Chinese man drifts 190 miles in two days after getting trapped in an untethered hydrogen balloon

  • Hu Yongxu was sitting on a hydrogen balloon with a colleague to harvest pinecones in northeast China when the balloon ‘suddenly ascended uncontrollably’
  • His colleague jumped out of the basket in time but Hu, who is in his forties, got stuck
  • Hu traveled 286 miles to the Fangzheng region, close to the border with Russia

A Chinese man who started his day picking pinecones in northeastern China drifted 190 miles in two days after becoming trapped in an untethered hydrogen balloon.

The man, identified as Hu Yongxu, was on a hydrogen balloon with a colleague to harvest the pinecones in northeast China’s Heilongjiang province when the balloon “suddenly ascended uncontrollably,” state media reported.

His colleague jumped out of the basket in time, but Hu got stuck and embarked on a nerve-wracking journey of 286 miles in the air.

Hu, who is in his 40s, immediately called his brother-in-law and said he was afraid of the height and that “everything he saw looked like ants,” according to an interview with the brother-in-law by state-owned Zhejiang Daily on Wednesday.

Video footage from multiple Chinese media outlets showed a pale balloon bobbing in the sky over pine forests.

The man, identified as Hu Yongxu, was on a hydrogen balloon with a colleague to harvest the pinecones in northeast China's Heilongjiang province when the balloon

The man, identified as Hu Yongxu, was on a hydrogen balloon with a colleague to harvest the pinecones in northeast China’s Heilongjiang province when the balloon “suddenly ascended uncontrollably,” state media reported. Pictured: Hu on a stretcher after reaching the ground

CCTV said police contacted Hu by phone the next day and instructed him on how to safely deflate and lower the balloon.

It took another day for it to reach the ground, about 190 miles to the northeast in the Fangzheng region, close to the border with Russia.

Hu was in good health, apart from pain in his lower back, possibly from being in the air all the time, CCTV said.

An official who gave only his last name, Fu, to the publicity department of the Hailin Forestry Administration Co. on Thursday, confirmed the balloon incident and described Hu as in his 40s.

Hu was in a hydrogen balloon harvesting the pinecones in northeast China's Heilongjiang province when the balloon

Hu was in a hydrogen balloon harvesting the pinecones in northeast China’s Heilongjiang province when the balloon “suddenly ascended uncontrollably.” Two days later, it reached the ground 286 miles to the northeast in the Fangzheng region, close to the border with Russia

He said Hu was recovering in a hospital, but declined to provide further details.

“I almost gave up,” Hu told the broadcaster after his extraordinary journey. “Thanks to the rescuers, otherwise I wouldn’t be alive.”

Hu said he feared this life and battled cold and hunger as he drifted 190 miles across China.

Pine nuts can be found in pine cones and are a common ingredient in dishes served in the Northeast, formerly known as Manchuria.

Chinese farmers use hydrogen balloons to harvest the pine nuts, and there have been some reports in recent years of pickers being swept away in the balloons.

In 2019, two men who picked pinecones in the Changbai Mountains traveled 10 kilometers in their balloon before landing. They were later arrested for violating aviation rules.

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