Seven people have been killed and eight injured after a sudden cascade of water flooded a tourist spot.
The incident took place in the Longcao Gorge area located in Pengzhou, around 80 kilometers from the center of Sichuan provincial capital Chengdu.
The scenic spot is located in a mountainous area where many tourists go to escape the summer heat and enjoy the natural surroundings.
The spot is often referred to as a wanghong location, meaning it is popular with those who want to take pictures to post online. Some reports even suggest that mahjong tables were set up in a nearby area in recent years.
The sudden flood took place on Saturday, August 13 at around 7.30pm.
Video footage circulated online shows tourists hurriedly running towards the river banks as they spot the sudden flood cascading towards them. Some people were unable to get to safety in time. The video shows items such as portable gazebos washed away with the current.
Watch the video below:
Xie Hong is a researcher of natural disasters at the China Institute of Science. He told a Chinese science journal that in his 40 years of research, such floods in Longcao Gorge have frequently occurred.
He described the climate of the mountain area – within which the Gorge is located – as “complex,” reports The Paper.
“People who go there to get away from the heat may see that there’s no rain on that day,” Xie explains. “They think that going to that part of the mountain carries with it very little risk. However, while there may be no rain below the summit of the mountain, there may be rain at the top of the mountain, causing the Gorge to flood and take people by surprise.”
The spotlight has also been shone on online platforms which promoted the Gorge as a wanghong spot, but didn’t warn travelers of the risks. In many areas, signs can be seen warning tourists not to go onto the river.
Shanghai-based lawyer Ding Jinkun told China Daily that if platforms are paid to promote a particular location, they must make clear all the relevant risks. If platforms are not paid to promote, the legal responsibility is borne by the visitor to the scenic spot. However, Ding adds that even in the latter case, platforms still have moral duty to inform.
Recent reports have stated that following the incident, villagers in the area have clashed with tourists who still wanted to visit the Gorge.
[Cover image via Weibo/@潇湘晨报]