ZAMBIA’S Tourism Minister took a bungee jump on the Victoria Falls Bridge on Monday in a bid to reassure tourists, days after a rope snapped and sent a 22-year-old Australian woman plunging into the Zambezi River.
Given Lubinda took the extraordinary step after Erin Langworthy’s “miraculous” survival of the 111 meter plunge on New Year’s Eve became headline news around the world.
Lubinda said after his jump that bungee jumping remained a “viable operation.”
“I myself will be engaging the operator on how we can make this exciting tourism event become totally incident-free,” he said.
Langworthy’s ill-fated jump was organised by Safari Par Excellence, one of the area’s leading tour operators.
An advert on the company’s website promoting the jumps says: “Challenge the limits of the mind and test the edge of fear by leaping off the impressive bridge.”
Promotional materials tout the bungee jump as having a “100% safety record.”
On Monday, Safari Par Excellence confirmed that a full investigation had been launched. The rope which snapped had been sent to South Africa for expert analysis.
Company boss Mike Davies said the accident was a “one-off”, adding: “There has been over 150,000 people jumping over the last 17 years without incident. So we are confident in it.”
Davies said experts had also been brought in at the site on the Victoria Falls Bridge on the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia to look into how safety can be improved.
“We have replaced all the equipment, all the ropes and the elastics in the meantime,” he added.
Thrill-seeking backpacker Langworthy, 22, escaped with only scrapes after a botched bungee jump sent her plunging 111 meters into the Zambezi River.
An amateur video captures her leap from the bridge amid cheers of “Erin!” Just as her cord begins to rebound, it snaps. People on the bridge can only watch as her tiny form floated downriver. “Oh my God, who’s going to do something,” said one, just as Langworthy and her long, trailing rope enters a set of rapids.
Moments after hitting the water “I felt liked I had been slapped all over,” Langworthy told Australia’s Channel 9. Her feet still bound by the rope, Langworthy was forced to swim against the current and make for the Zimbabwean side of the river.
At one point, she recounted, she needed to dive down and free the rope after it became caught on rocks and debris.
Quick action by Zimbabwean police officers who raced by staircase to the bottom of the gorge has been credited for Langworthy’s miraculous survival.
SHOCKING VIDEO: BUNGEE ROPE SNAPS