- China's popular bridge suspension obstacle courses have come under fire over safety concerns.
- In separate incidents, a man and a 10-year-old boy fell after slipping from their harnesses.
- The man fell to his death, while the boy sustained serious but non-life threatening injuries.
Two people in China fell while taking part in suspension bridge obstacle courses in separate incidents last week, with one man plunging to his death and a 10-year-old boy sustaining severe injuries after he slipped from his safety harness.
Both had been attempting the "step by step with fright" challenge, popularized by viral videos on Chinese social media and featured in tourist spots across the country.
The challenge involves crossing over a series of suspended planks or floorboards that form a bridge suspended several hundred feet above the ground. Participants are typically provided with a harness attached to the bridge.
However, last week's incidents have triggered an online debate on the need for better safety measures and have raised questions about whether staff on-site knew what they were doing with the harnesses.
The deceased man fell unconscious while crossing one such bridge on Friday at the Jiushan Peak Scenic Spot near the city of Tianjin, said the Tianjin Jizhou District Culture and Tourism Bureau.
Videos online show the unresponsive man hanging from his harness underneath the bridge as staff struggled to pull him back up. Insider has chosen not to share these videos because of their graphic content.
As the staff members hoist the man back towards the bridge, they lose their grip, and the man plummets into the treeline below.
Authorities said they had ordered the tourism spot to close for a complete investigation into the incident.
On the same day, a 10-year-old boy fell into a cluster of trees and bushes at the Dixin Valley tourist site in Enshi, Hubei province, local authorities said in a notice on Saturday.
Videos posted online appeared to show the boy clinging to his harness while dangling between two widely-spaced planks as a staff member grabs his shirt.
"Grab hold, grab hold, kid!" a man can be heard screaming off-screen. As the boy appeared to lose his grip, he slipped out of his shirt and into the vegetation below.
(Warning: Some readers may find this footage distressing)
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The boy suffered several fractures along his spine and cuts to his scalp but did not sustain any life-threatening injuries, the official notice said.
Authorities also said they had shut down the Enshi tourist site to investigate potential safety hazards.
The operators of the two "step by step with fright" bridges have come under fire on the Chinese social media site Weibo, with critics calling for the use of safety nets or three-point harnesses that wrap underneath users' groins.
Chinese outlet Chengdu Commercial Daily cited several safety equipment manufacturers as saying that there are no standardized equipment requirements for such bridges and that they are not officially regulated.