News24

Tourist survives Vic Falls bungee horror

2012-01-09 07:19

Sydney - An Australian woman whose bungee jumping cord snapped, plunging her head-first into the raging crocodile-infested waters of the Zambezi River, on Monday described her "miracle" survival.

Erin Langworthy, 22, was on holiday on New Year's Eve when she took the 111-metre bungee jump from the Victoria Falls bridge above the river, which borders Zambia and Zimbabwe.

But it all went horribly wrong when the cord snapped about halfway into the jump. The terrifying moment was caught on video and Langworthy is seen hitting the water with her feet still tied before being swept towards rapids.

Rapids


"It went black straight away and I felt like I'd been slapped all over," she told Australia's Channel Nine in an interview recounting the moment of impact.

"As I went deeper down, the water got colder and it must have snapped me out of it."

Langworthy, from Perth, said she had been white water rafting the previous day and remembered some of the safety tips to get through the looming rapids.

"The water was going quite quickly and then I started to hear the roaring," she said.

"It's like being in waves, you get sucked under and then you pop up so it's very disorienting, I didn’t know which was up or down."

She managed to swim to the Zimbabwe side of the river, where she hauled herself out.

"It was quite scary because a couple of times the rope actually got caught on some rocks or debris," she said.

"I actually had to swim down and yank the bungee cord out of whatever it was caught on to make it to the surface."

Miracle

Langworthy suffered a fractured collar bone as well as massive bruising in the accident and was taken to South Africa for treatment.

"Yes, I think it's definitely a miracle that I survived," she told the broadcaster.

The Lusaka Times quoted Zambian Tourism Minister Given Lubinda as assuring tourists the bungee jumping equipment was safe, despite the incident.

"The bungee has proven to be a very viable operation considering that more than 50 000 tourists jump on it every year," he said.

"It has been in operation for 10 years. This is the first time I am hearing of an incident. The probability of an incident is one in 500 000 jumps."

- See the video here.

Comments
  • Deon - 2012-01-09 07:23

    You don't do bungee jumping in Zim or Zam, nothing works there

      Jack - 2012-01-09 07:41

      Typical african response, Zambian Tourism Minister Given Lubinda as assuring tourists the bungee jumping equipment was safe, despite the incident.

      beaglesr - 2012-01-09 08:32

      I doubt the minister ever saw a bungee rope before the incident Jack. Lip service and damage control.

      Nozipho - 2012-01-09 08:35

      i think you are better off with a 1/500 000 chance of a bunjee rope breaking than a 99% chance of getting arm robbed or hi-jacked or worse still murdered. What works in Mzansi? Crime? U r better quiet Deon at least you wont make it obvious what a .... you are.

      Squeegee - 2012-01-09 08:40

      Perhaps the minister will go test the cords by actually jumping himself - we might believe him then.

      Afrikopite - 2012-01-09 08:40

      Where in the world do you find a place without accidents Deon. Very stupid of you or if not stupid, this is a politically motivated comment.

      nmduduzi - 2012-01-09 08:46

      @Deon that was in Zambia not in Zim, Do not generalize. I guess you have never been to Zim and you're just one of those people who talk a lot about what they don't know.

      John - 2012-01-09 09:05

      I've done that jump probably 20 times as a tour operator taking people to Lake Malawi and have always been impressed by the safety. Seems something horribly went wrong and she's a very lucky Aussie! As with everything, complacency is the recipe to disaster and those cords should be tested at prescribed intervals by cutting a meter off it and sending it away to a reputable lab for testing. Seems this was not done or, it is a freak accident not to be repeated again.

      cheyna.stewart - 2012-01-09 09:08

      what about the bungee cord that snapped sending a newly married couple plummeting into rocks in Graskop. The poor guy had to be strapped to his new wifes mangles body for 3 hours. this girl survived. so dont diss Zim and Zambia. Their record is alot better than South Africas....

      Sam - 2012-01-09 09:38

      Deaon, This is the 1st time it breaks in over 100 years. Maybe in other parts of the world accidents don't happened in the real world (Africa) they do.

      Poloyatonki - 2012-01-09 09:48

      Deon.. What an idiotic comment.

      Garth - 2012-01-09 09:56

      People have been bungee-jumping for over a 100 years! Wow . . . not! Maybe on the island of Vanuatu.

      Thopa - 2012-01-09 10:01

      @ Jack - MAO!

      Thopa - 2012-01-09 10:02

      @ Jack - Mao is a typical african response.

      David - 2012-01-09 10:06

      Deaon you are clearly an ignorant moron. Both Zim and Zambia run just fine. Have a look at where YOUR tax money goes before mothing off you idiot. And to everyone else, cars crash all the time and you still drive? They have done over 200 000 jumps off that bridge (which is in no man's land - neither Zim nor Zambia)and this is the ONLY incident like this.

      Rory - 2012-01-09 10:17

      Save yourself from getting embarrassed if u don't ve anything better to say dude, what works where u at?

      Flowingriver - 2012-01-09 10:20

      You bloody cynics are now saying that this only happens in a country run by africans..........as if something like this has never happened anywhere else in the world.......

      musa.khumalo - 2012-01-09 11:08

      @ Deon, that's a really pitiful statement you made, I won't waste my energy responding further, but i advise that you think a little further before making some statements

      Americo - 2012-01-09 15:22

      No one tells you what safety inspections are done and how often and by whom. I mean 50000 jumps per annum requires inspection and certification of all equipment and rope testing after every 100 jumps at the very least (ie every day)

  • Janice - 2012-01-09 07:27

    Jeeeez! One lucky young lady!!!

  • Ryan - 2012-01-09 07:29

    Do I trust in conjecture or observations?: "The Lusaka Times quoted Zambian Tourism Minister Given Lubinda as assuring tourists the bungee jumping equipment was safe, despite the incident." Is the bungee chord safe because Given Lubinda says so (I'm guessing he acgtually performed strength tests on it himself - how else could he know this!?), or can i assume that it breaking means that it isn't safe? All I can say is that this guys is an obvious idiot. Do I trust in conjecture or observations?

      Gungets - 2012-01-09 08:10

      Observation. It is the first time in the history of that jump. Your assumption that one exception, as poor as it is, makes it non-viable is conjecture. Why not let the experts figure out what happened and fix it. And before anyone makes "cultural" comments, realise that it is run under concession by professional operators - Kiwi's I believe. HOWEVER, I wonder if they are going to change this webpage - it is brilliantly ironic now ----> http://www.victoriafalls-guide.net/bungee-jumping.html

      Gungets - 2012-01-09 08:16

      And, having said all that, just checked the video, and the cord does not look in good shape at all. Frayed to hell, and then it breaks where the elastic portion is joined to the first section. Not good. And just to be fair - I am not going to delete my first post ....

      Rev-Ida - 2012-01-09 10:09

      @gungets {quote} it is brilliantly ironic now ----> http://www.victoriafalls-guide.net/bungee-jumping.html {quote} Over 50 000 have committed themselves to doing this and there is a 100% safety record. Until last week … No only joking!. Brilliant Gungets - I hope that Google archives this page before the spin doctors paper it over. I have archived the "smoking gun" myself for future reference. Look at the 2nd photo at their webpage - there are a mighty large number of rocks close to and even in the water - if it was a 1:50'000 chance that the cord snapped, it was a 1:500'000 chance that Erin survived - go for it now the rest of your life girl. For me - I love life too much to even contemplate "Dr Livingstone, I presume" - risks too high, far outweigh any conceivable benefit or sating of curiosity.

  • Colin - 2012-01-09 07:30

    Wear and Tear - whats that???????

      Napolita - 2012-01-09 10:14

      @colin : Wear and Tear - Loss, damage, or depreciation resulting from ordinary use and exposure.

  • Comrade - 2012-01-09 07:35

    Yuura - Ive done that bungee jump...That must have been HECTIC!

  • Butch - 2012-01-09 07:40

    50 000 jumpers a year - ten years before an accident means a one in 500 000 incidence. Next time we will change the rope after 499 999 jumps to prevent future mishaps!!

      George - 2012-01-09 13:29

      Pity old Mugabe wasnt on the end of the rope.

  • Gibbaan Erasmus - 2012-01-09 07:43

    That part of the Zambezi is not crocodile infested because of the strong rapids.

      WotzisName - 2012-01-09 08:16

      It is actually. I've done the rafting there a few times, the rapids are quite short with longer calmer stretches inbetween with massice crocs in most of the calm stretches.

      hilton.lowry - 2012-01-16 08:36

      Big crocs don't live in that part of the gorge. They die going over the Falls and no big crocs can get up past the rapids. There are not enough dumb tourists or other large game to keep large crocs alive on that stretch.

  • Simon - 2012-01-09 07:47

    Deon i live in Zimbabwe and the mobile internet is working just fine.What does something that involves Zambians have to do with Zimbabwe?

  • gcshrimpton - 2012-01-09 07:59

    Thank God the Lady survived. What a typical jungle bunnies comment about it being safe.

      Sharkshoot - 2012-01-09 08:14

      It's so typical of Africa that when something goes wrong their immediate knee-jerk reaction "But this never happens". There is a little known word in Africa that has become extinct and it's called TAKING OWNERSHIP. All the moron had to say was that they were terribly sorry and that an investigation was underway to find the cause of the incident AND that all precautions were being taken to see to it that this unfortunate and rare accident would never happen again. No, in Africa it's deny deny deny...

      Afrikopite - 2012-01-09 08:44

      Sharkshoot, this is very simple, LEAVE AFRICA AND GO LIVE WHERE YOU WILL BE SAFE. Sharks have attacked people in Australian beaches, please comment.

      Sharkshoot - 2012-01-09 08:52

      Take ownership. Go look up the word pilgrim.

      Napolita - 2012-01-09 10:17

      @Sharkshoot - "TAKING OWNERSHIP" is that a word or phrase?!?

      Sharkshoot - 2012-01-09 10:45

      Napolita look up the word 'troll'.

  • Colin - 2012-01-09 08:04

    As a member of our tourism industry I note this incident with concern. Concern from two aspects. Firstly, that a visitor to our region is placed in danger, injured but most fortunately alive to tell her tale. My second concern goes to the operators of the Bungi operation who for the last twenty years exercise exhaustive daily safety tasks on their equipment and according to our records have never had a severed cord incident. I would expect a full internal and independent investigation in this matter and for the results to be made know to all. There is no latitude when it comes to the safety of our visitors to southern Africa, absolutely none. Ciao. Colin J. FRYER.

      Gilli - 2012-01-09 08:09

      What a good response! Thank goodness the lady concerned is okay - a miracle indeed. What we cannot lose sight of is the fact that bungee jumping is a high risk activity. There have been deaths in other parts of the world. The bungee was closed for investigation after this incident and anyone booked for the bungee had to change to the bridge swing. This ran smoothly and, I have to say the operators were totally upfront and honest about the reason it was closed.

      Gungets - 2012-01-09 08:45

      Colin - please could you drop me a mail to gungetstuft@gmail.com - I am planning a Zim holiday for next year and looking for someone reputable for advice and facilitation. You sound like you could be the person. Thanks.

  • Simon - 2012-01-09 08:09

    @deon i live in Zimbabwe and the mobile internet is working just fine.Anyway,what does something that happened on the Zambian side of the border have to do with Zimbabwe.If we Zimbabweans had wanted to be cruel we could have arrested the lady for illegal entry into Zimbabwe

      Andile Oscar Mtshiselwa - 2012-01-09 08:24

      @ Simon. From your comment i can also see the good side of Zim as I was also scared of that country as it is always been portrayed as bad and barbaric.Any way this was really a miracle, u can imagine the Crocs

  • Johan - 2012-01-09 08:10

    In Zim you can bungee jump for free,NO STRINGS ATTACHED !

      Peter - 2012-01-09 08:25

      VERY GOOD JOHAN

      Buck - 2012-01-09 08:40

      Dude, this happened in Zambia not Zim.

      Johan - 2012-01-09 10:00

      Buck they bungee jump from a bridge between Zimbabwe and Zambia

  • Burtfred - 2012-01-09 08:11

    Eish.

  • tbomelamsomi - 2012-01-09 08:12

    Puts me off doing the Knynsa jump again.

      George - 2012-01-09 13:30

      Are you bragging???

  • Walter - 2012-01-09 08:14

    Actually, the operation has been run by very competent people for many years. Now and again accidents do occur, as when someone lost his/her life bungee jumping from a crane at the Rand Easter show some years back. Having said this, journalists, as always, have to dramatise events! In that particular part of the river, there are no crocodiles because of the turbulent waters. Rapids are a bit scary, as as she said, she's done the rafting the day before. Lucky to be alive.

  • Fredster - 2012-01-09 08:17

    Wonder if she signed an indemnity form?

      Peter - 2012-01-09 08:24

      ONCE AGAIN IT SHOWS HOW TOUGH THE AUSSIES ARE, COME ON SOME SOUTH AFRICAN TRY TO BEAT THIS ONE, ITS A WONDER SHE WASNT ARRESTED FOR COMING INTO ZIMBABWE ILLEGALLY

  • Gerhard - 2012-01-09 08:24

    I get that this must be a thrill, same as skydiving but I do not see the point of jumping off a perfectly good bridge or out of a perfectly good plane. And no, I don't think I want to try it. Call me chicken but this gravity thing is hectic!

  • ruth.chitauro - 2012-01-09 08:29

    Please clarify if the bungee jumping company is Zambian or Zimbabwean?

      Cosmos O'Ndebele - 2012-01-09 08:47

      Why?

      John - 2012-01-09 10:38

      Ruth. The Bungi Jumping concession is owned and run by Shearwater an English firm.

      John - 2012-01-09 10:45

      Ruth. Sorry correction. Shearwater Adventures and they were established in 1982

  • Mblexon - 2012-01-09 08:30

    Damnit to think I did it too! There must be zero probability of the ropes snapping stupid Zambian minister!

  • Cosmos O'Ndebele - 2012-01-09 08:36

    Accidents happen everywhere especial like these. Watch discovey channel, pity this will be characterised as ' African'. A few days ago 11 thrill seekers died in a hot air ballon accident in New Zealand.

      SeeVeeDeeEl - 2012-01-09 08:49

      Yes, but the African factor makes the probabality of an accident so much higher.

      Cosmos O'Ndebele - 2012-01-09 09:02

      Yeee only for twisted thinking people like you. Go to European skii resorts during the skiing season & listen to stories about cable cars plunging to the ground!!!

      SeeVeeDeeEl - 2012-01-09 09:37

      So lucky for the skiers there is (mostly) no African factor there. Otherwise they'd all be plunged to death by now.

      cosmos.ndebele - 2012-01-09 10:25

      I wish i could continue, but clearly its a waste of time

      tflatby - 2012-01-09 14:54

      You can say that again, accidents happens everywhere. So many amusements park accidents has happened in USA or in Europe but all hell breaks because this time it happens in Africa.

  • Bryan - 2012-01-09 08:36

    I jumped off that bridge.... Just had a very cold chill run up my spine.

  • FurnitureFusion - 2012-01-09 08:40

    ....i hope she got a refund ....

  • Henning - 2012-01-09 08:42

    Great that she survived....she got way more than she paid for

  • Justin - 2012-01-09 08:45

    This was part of the New Years Eve Special that they were offering for a dicounted price - No stings attached...

  • Sue - 2012-01-09 08:50

    How scary is that. Glad she survived.

  • Craig - 2012-01-09 08:51

    Actually, I think that this article, and this website, demonstrates the calibre of the minds of many News24 regulars. As one reader pointed out above, the bungee operators have been doing this for 20 years with out incident. Now all of a sudden, these lemon-chewing bigots vomit up comments like, "jungle bunnies" and "typical African response", etc, etc. Shame on you. To regurgitate trite old generalisations about black Africans demonstrates a hideously deranged and bitter element to our society.

      tflatby - 2012-01-09 14:58

      Well said Craig

  • glen.e.huysamer - 2012-01-09 08:53

    Wow, what an experience, much more than what she paid for. She is lucky she managed to survive, the snap, the fall, the impact, the lights out, the river, the rapids, the feet tied, getting tangled.....man it all sounds like a Hollywood stunt performance. Hats of to the lady. She has one heck of a story to tell grandchildren someday.

  • Chrono - 2012-01-09 08:54

    Ok, so now we know the rope has to be replaced every ninth year, just to be on the safe side.

  • Jacques Jacobs - 2012-01-09 09:00

    I need to dispell a few myths seeing as I have done many bungees and friends of mine own the highest one in the world. 1) The chord is not 'frayed'. They use offcuts of latex to tie the main bundle together. That's how they look and those 'frayed' bits have nothing to do with the strenghth of the chord. 2) Companies usually use the chord for only about a third to half of it's expected safe lifetime and then write it off (cut it into little bits) so let's see what the investigation says. 3) The jump in Vic falls is actually in international territory. It is in the center of the river which is the border between the two border posts. 4) The poor girl probably came from the Zim side anyway (most backpackers and budget travelers her age stay that side) so why would they have arrested her? 5) There ARE crocs in the river there. All the quiet pools between rapids have crocs. I am glad that she is ok and would do both the bungees (Vic falls and Bloukrans) again and again. No worries mate.

  • Sally - 2012-01-09 09:04

    This was a pure accident and for those of you calling it a typical African event need to seriously get your heads examined. You have far bigger problems than even the affected Aussi girl has. As someone pointed out here, why no derogatory comments about the ballooning accident in New Zealand? Why can it not be accepted that accidents happen? Especially in risky events like bungi jumping, parashuting, motor racing, etc, etc. Come on you nay sayers, get a life! Eish!!!!!!

  • Schalk - 2012-01-09 09:21

    The words "Maintenance" and "Africa" cannot be used in the same sentence unless joined by "lack of"...

  • robbie.crouch - 2012-01-09 09:22

    Old cords... probably past their stretch date! I am glad she survived though.

  • Xenswim1 - 2012-01-09 09:38

    lucky 50,000 jumps. The first thing you learn about these jumps is that they test or replace their equipment on a regular basis. If I decided to jump I ask for the last official inspection certificate. This supposed to be prominently displayed anyway.

  • punktuasie - 2012-01-09 09:38

    I'd sue.

      Mildly_Amused - 2012-01-09 11:53

      She's Australian - not American

  • Kevin Nicklin - 2012-01-09 09:40

    Honestly more people die on south africa's roads over the festive season. This is the first incident that I have heard of on the Vic falls bridge. Why do some people make so much fuss about it? It is a high risk sport and the participants are fully aware of the possible dangers. Accidents happen world wide, not just in Africa so get over yourselves!

  • Richard - 2012-01-09 09:41

    This is not a statistical accident. It is negligence. This rope was old, past its use by date, not regularly tested and in a visual state of disrepair. It might be that there has only been 1 in 500 000 such incidents, but it will happen again without applying the duty of care in respect of all the preventative measures. A review of procedures and operational history should precede an enquiry with a sanction for the guilty if there is one. In my view that there was negligence is beyond a reasonable doubt. If there is a God, he looked after this woman that day. I wonder if she'll ever jump again?

      Jacques Jacobs - 2012-01-09 09:55

      If you don't know what you are talking about, you should keep quiet. Please read my comment above.

      Christo - 2012-01-09 10:20

      wow richard you've already decided all of that before there even been an investigation. This is a VERY serious accident and there will be a full investigation, but making random statements before this has been done makes you look like a idiot

      musa.khumalo - 2012-01-09 11:22

      i find this post despicable. You are so mis-informed, yet you make assertions with such finality.eish, do yourself a favour man....

      Linda - 2012-01-09 11:52

      Richard, do you have information to back up your statements regarding the state of the "rope" and that the incident was as a result of negligence? Wild conjecture is not useful to anyone.

  • smahlaba - 2012-01-09 09:54

    eish met eish...

  • Sandy - 2012-01-09 09:54

    The ropes are 10 years old !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and most probably second hand, glad to hear she got through it

  • David - 2012-01-09 10:08

    Oh and News24 - There are NO crocs in that section of the Zambezi at all...otherwise why would they run Rafting and riverboparding? Stop copying the SKY news report word for word and think for yourselves!

      Jacques Jacobs - 2012-01-09 10:21

      There ARE crocs there. You can see them from the bridge waiting for something to wash down the falls.

      David - 2012-01-11 12:12

      Really Jacques? You sure about that? And why then do they do white water rafting and riverboarding there? I have been selling this area for 16 years and have been there 23 times. Where do you get YOUR info? Just asking...The story is senstaional enough...why try and make is more so?

  • Ryan - 2012-01-09 10:13

    Eh, round the tree, through the hole, ahh... that should be fine. You can jump madam..

  • Kay - 2012-01-09 10:17

    Channel Nine, you are super lucky... Hope u recover quickly.. As for the Zambian Bungee people, they need to take responsibilty.. Not cool

      Linda - 2012-01-09 11:54

      You're assuming they're not taking responsibilty?

  • Joe - 2012-01-09 10:37

    I think what they meant to say was: "The Lusaka Times quoted Zambian Tourism Minister Given Lubinda as assuring tourists the bungee jumping equipment was safe, despite the witness-videotaped proof to the contrary." I wonder if the minister personally perused the equipment inspection and replacement checklist. But if the equipment was indeed safe, that means the accident was as a result of human error. Which means they'll be looking for a FALL GUY now :-)

  • Andre - 2012-01-09 11:31

    Africa maintenance philosophy. You drive your Toyota till it breaks. Then you fix it. This maintenace thing the Europeans are doing, it just a waste of money. Problem is, that if the Toyota breaks, it is already on the ground. I was @ the storms river Bungee and Vic Falls Bungee. Gotta be blind not to spot the problem. Wonder which department accpeted the bribe for the permit. Tourism or labour.

  • Hennie - 2012-01-09 11:45

    I am sure Given Lubinda wont jump because he is worried that he might be jumper number 500001

  • Caro - 2012-01-09 12:59

    Thank God she's ok. Accidents happen anywhere in world people even in AFRICA.

  • Lindiwe Skosana - 2012-01-09 15:05

    My worst fear come true...

  • Americo - 2012-01-09 15:22

    No one tells you what safety inspections are done and how often and by whom. I mean 50000 jumps per annum requires inspection and certification of all equipment and rope testing after every 100 jumps at the very least (ie every day)

  • Daveu - 2012-01-09 15:35

    I did the same jump at Vic falls in 2009 and the assistants miscalculated my weight and i ended up smashing into the water right up to my thighs which resulted in me having a severly bruised face and my eyes swelled up like a ballon. The assistants there didnt know what to do nor how to handle the situation and I was quickly taken off site and removed from the area before any of the new clients could see the damage to my face. The owner did fone me a few weeks yip weeks later and apologised and offered me a free jump whenever I return to Vic falls. So be warned to the fact that these operators are not as qualified as they say they are

  • ludlowdj - 2012-01-09 15:42

    Poor maintenance and control by the relevant service providers and governments

  • Sue - 2012-01-11 14:00

    guess you just have to hope that you are not the 500 000th person to take the leap.......