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Missing Tourist

Search still on for missing Chinese tourist on Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro

Apolinari Tairo  Sep 08, 2008

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania (eTN) - The whereabouts of a Chinese tourist who went missing while descending Africa’s highest peak, Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania’s northern tourist circuit, remains a mystery after efforts to find him have failed.

Tanzania security and national parks authorities in northern Tanzanian region of Kilimanjaro combed the forest and alpine areas surrounding the mountain for a month with no success to trace Mr. Zhang Shaosheng, who disappeared while ascending the mountain at 4,600 meters on July 17 this year.

National parks authorities said Mr. Zhang went missing while in a company of other Chinese climbers after they successfully reached the mountains peak and took their memorial photos.

“As they were going down Mr. Zhang went missing between the summit and the Barafu Camp, located at an altitude of 4,600 meters above sea level,” said one official from the Tanzania National Parks, which controls and manages the mountain.

It is believed that the tourist might have skipped and trapped somewhere deeper in ravines full of ice and springs. Security officers said Mr. Zhang has opted to take the rough Machame route to come down instead of the popular Marangu route he had earlier used to scale the mountain, probably taking much more risk.

The Machame route on the western side of the mountain is rough and marked with rocks, ravines and awesome volcanic features, attracting tourists to attempt this route.

The Chinese news agency Xinhua reported last month that Mr. Zhang, in his early 40’s, was an amateur mountaineer from China's Guangdong province.

China's ambassador to Tanzania, Mr. Liu Xinsheng, and Mr. Zhang's wife, Zeng Wei, issued a joint statement requesting for information on his disappearance.

The Chinese embassy here in Tanzania’s capital of Dar es Salaam, some 600 kilometers away from the mountain, has distributed leaflets with color pictures of the missing Chinese climber and basic descriptions of him. The leaflets are in English and Kiswahili, Tanzania’s lingua franca.

Ms. Zeng requested climbers from Tanzania and overseas who went up or down the mountain on July 17 to try to recall whether they had met a lone Chinese climber.

The National Parks director general, Mr. Gerald Bigurube, said searching of the missing Chinese was still going on to get him dead or alive. He said the search was underway on the higher altitudes and ravines of the Africa’s highest peak.

Mr. Bigurube further said the disappearance of Mr. Zhang was unusual case and circumstances leading to such an incident were confusing. The search teams are still looking for him inside the thick rainforest higher on the mountain.

Mount Kilimanjaro is Tanzania’s leading tourist site, pulling over 60,000 climbers a year. But some climbers have been reported to ignore the mountain’s geological formation to find themselves skipping down the ravines and ended their lives deeper the rocks.

There have been rare deaths reported, but not the usual case, only affecting climbers who ignored their guides to take dangerous or unauthorized routes.

Search still on for missing Chinese tourist on Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro
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