Hiker fakes 17-day disappearance because he was ‘unhappy’

Source:Global Times Published: 2016-5-25 21:08:01

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Hiker fakes 17-day disappearance because he was 'unhappy'

A hiker who was believed missing for 17 days in China's "Bermuda Triangle" instead faked his disappearance in a premeditated trip to Tibet because he was "unhappy."

Zou Ming, 27, had set off alone on May 6 into Heizhu Valley, a wilderness area in Southwest China's Sichuan Province with a reputation for hikers going missing.

"I just want to have a look around, then I'll be back. I won't go too deep in," he told his wife in a phone call later that day, media reported. 

Instead, a well-provisioned Zou quickly disguised himself and hitched a ride to a nearby bus station on a journey that would eventually take him approximately 1,200 kilometers to the Tibet Autonomous Region.

It wasn't until May 23 that Zou's father located his son at a youth hostel in central Lhasa, media reported.

Zou said he had planned his disappearance six months in advance because he felt his life had lost meaning. He admitted to toying with the idea of disappearing over the last two years.

"I know many people can't understand what I did. That's because they have no way to identify with my situation," Zou explained.

The ruse had triggered a nearly 100-man-strong search in Heizhu Valley on May 9 in a place that had earned the nickname China's "Bermuda Triangle" for its number of missing hiker cases.

Zou's family offered a 100,00-yuan ($16,000) reward for his return. That amount was doubled by May 15, Wuxi-based Jiangnan Evening News reported.

Zou could be charged with illegally crossing park boundaries, creating a false distress situation and "uncivilized behavior," which entail fines and being put on a national tourism blacklist, according to lawyers.

"A missing person who returns safe and sound is good news for a family, but it's not that simple," said Wang Lin, head of the Sichuan Leshan Mountain Rescue Team that had participated in the search efforts.

Zou would have been the fourth hiker to vanish in the Heizhu Valley area in two years.

In August 2014, three hikers were split from their five-member group. Two were later found dead. The group guide, Li Jing, is still missing.

There may be scientific reason why experienced outdoor enthusiasts go missing in Heizhu - which researchers point out is located at the same latitude as the Bermuda Triangle.

In research predating the 2014 disappearances, Li Caiming, a research fellow at the Chengdu University of Technology, discovered an "abnormal magnetic field" during a survey of the Heizhu Valley that may cause phenomena such as compass failure.

However, the research does not explain the failure of GPS equipment used by the hikers.

Jiangnan Evening News

Posted in: Odd News

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