Tourists have flocked to a 3,500-foot high glass-bottom walkway in China -- then crept and crawled across its dizzying length, praying they wouldn't fall to their deaths -- for two weeks. Those crowds may now disappear now that one tourist shared his harrowing experience online.
The "safe" glass cracked under his feet, reportedly shattered by a tourist's dropped steel cup. However, officials in Yuntai Mountain Scenic Park -- where the structure is strung across a canyon -- are assuring it's still safe, USA Today reported.
No one believes them, and understandably so. As the New York Times pointed out, China is known for slapdash construction and poor crowd control. Moreover, the guy who originally posted about his frightening experience on the country's answer to Twitter, Weibo -- a user called Li Donghai -- has been silenced, Shanghaist added.He claimed to have heard the cracks before he saw them, at the end of the bridge.
"As I looked below me, I realised that the … panel had cracked. I'm not sure what caused the crack, but there were people screaming that very moment and I yelled, 'It's shattered! It's really shattered!' before pushing aside all the people in front of me to make my escape."Naturally, park officials downplayed the fracture and assure the attraction isn't dangerous. They claim that the break was discovered by safety inspectors conducting a routine inspection and they were small -- they blamed the damage on the impact on a sharp object, alternately reported as a mug, cup, and flask.
Li Donghai was ticked by the statement.
"(It's) wrong. It was not just a few cracks. The whole pane had shattered. Saying that I'm making a mountain out of a mole hill is slander and I won't take it."For now, the skywalk has been closed, thought it's not clear whether the whole thing has been temporarily shuttered or just the damaged section. When the cracks were discovered, freaked out and shrieking tourists were quickly and safely evacuated.
The bridge is made out of three tempered panes. Each pane is supposed to withstand more than 1,700 pounds. The railings are also made of two panes. Officials have assured that only the top pane cracked, but not the others.
Social media exploded with indigence from people unconvinced by the government's official explanation for the cracks and assurances of safety. Many believe park officials are downplaying the incident."Yuntaishan glass broken plankfloor not a serious break?... What... an international joke," said one man. Another noted that the tourists who've visited the skywalk "risked their lives" to do so.
And the walkway may have just become more dangerous.
"This is no joke. Tourism is taking your life in your own hands. No more of these … walkways. Just too scary."
But China loves building these terrifying tourist attractions in an attempt to give visitors something to do besides shop and eat. Another glass-bottom bridge opened last week in another national park -- Shiniuzhai. That walkway has been called the Haohan Qiao walkway, or "brave men's walkway" in English. It's 590 feet off the ground. China is planning another in the Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon area.
However, the last thing anyone wants to see in a glass walkway are cracks, and these appeared during the nation's busiest tourist seasons -- the week-long National Day getaway, which fills the country with local tourists. Such structures have become pretty popular in China.
[Photo Courtesy YouTube Screengrab]