HK woman perishes on Table Mountain Guide also dies, second climber hurt in South Africa plunge

Top News | Phoenix Un 4 Jan 2018

Phoenix Un

A female Hong Kong climber and her guide died while rock climbing on the famous Table Mountain in South Africa on New Year's Day despite rescuers' attempt to save them.

Another female climber from Hong Kong was admitted to hospital after she was rescued.

It is understood that the 61-year-old guide fell first, which caused the two Hong Kong women to plunge too. Both the guide and 29-year-old Hong Kong victim died on impact.

The three were scaling the front of Table Mountain, which rises almost 1,100 meters above Cape Town, using ropes on Monday afternoon.

But when they climbed to about 150 meters below an upper cable car station, things went badly wrong and they were seen dangling on ropes.

The cable car operator suspended operations after a rescue team assessed the situation.

Online photos showed the two Hongkongers trapped 150 meters above the cable car station, with the survivor attempting to revive her friend through cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

Tourists on a cable car saw the two women and reported the incident. The local authority deployed a 30-member rescue team as well as a helicopter, which could not get close to them.

The cable car service was suspended during the rescue effort, leaving 800 tourists trapped for several hours until the survivor was taken down the mountain at 11pm - about five hours after the drama began.

But the bodies of the two victims were not retrieved until early Tuesday morning.

Another 500 visitors were stranded on top of the mountain as the cable car was used in the rescue effort. Authorities said the rescue mission was very difficult due to the cold weather and low visibility.

Hong Kong's Immigration Department contacted the victim's family, but they told the department they would handle the issue themselves.

The Consulate-General of China in Cape Town also announced the news on its website and offered condolences. It added they were willing to help the family of the deceased.

Mountaineering expert Chung Kin-man said Table Mountain is not a difficult destination for rock climbing, but since the route is long and climbers cannot finish it in a straight line they need to be experienced with good stamina.

"Unlike tackling Tung Lung Island and Shek O, climbers would need to assume the 'multiple-pitch climbing' method and set belay points for companions," Chung said.

He said there were a number of possible reasons for the accident. One possibility was that, as the guide fell, he may have pulled out an anchor, causing the Hongkongers using it to fall.

Another possibility was that all three climbers were connected with ropes, meaning that if one person fell, all would suffer the same fate.

Table Mountain is located in the Table Mountain National Park in Cape Town and its highest point, McLear's Beacon, is 1,086 meters above sea level.

It is flanked by Devil's Peak to the east and by Lion's Head to the west.

Despite it being a national treasure, 133 climbers have died there since 1980.

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