Chinese nut-picker survives 200-mile journey in escaped hydrogen balloon

A man has been found safe after he spent two days aloft in a hydrogen balloon that became untethered while he was using it to harvest pine nuts from a tree, according to Chinese state media.

The man, identified only by his surname, Hu, and a partner were collecting pine nuts on Sunday in a forest park in Heilongjiang province in north-east China when they lost control and the balloon sailed off on a 200-mile journey.

The other person jumped to the ground, and a search was launched for the escaped balloon and Hu.

The state broadcaster CCTV said rescuers were able to contact the man by mobile phone the next morning and instructed him to slowly deflate the balloon to land safely. It took another day before he reached the ground in the Fangzheng region, close to the border with Russia.

Hu was in good health, apart from a pain in his lower back, possibly from standing the entire time he was in the air, CCTV said.

An official who gave only his surname, Fu, at the publicity department of the Hailin Forestry Administration Co on Thursday confirmed the balloon incident and described Hu as being in his 40s. He said Hu was recovering in a hospital but declined to give further details.

Pine nuts are found inside pine cones and are a frequent ingredient in dishes served in north-east China, formerly known as Manchuria.

The Guardian

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