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Dutch Tourist Falls to His Death in Cave

A Dutch tourist plummeted 60 meters to his death in a limestone cave in Xiahe County, Gansu Province in northwest China.


Blanken Rene, 30, was among a party of nine tourists when he slipped from a ledge in the cave on Saturday afternoon.


His body was flown about 600 kilometers to Lanzhou, the capital of the province, on Sunday.


"We have made a post-mortem examination, and questioned the companions of the deceased and other eyewitnesses, who confirmed that Blanken Rene walked into the cave and lost his footing," said Xia Li, a police officer at the Entry and Exit Administrative Office of Gansu Provincial Public Security Department.


According to police, Rene arrived in Xiahe County with a Dutch companion last Thursday. They met up with a group of Norwegian tourists, and made plans to visit the limestone cave.


Rene and the group arrived at Baishiya Limestone Cave at about 1 pm on Saturday.


The site is about 300 kilometers away from the county seat, said Wang Hong, an official at the provincial foreign affairs administrative office.


Wang added that the local government had already informed the Netherlands Embassy in China, and was awaiting further instructions from officials and Rene's family.


A tour guide was not accompanying the group, and the area they visited was not a designated tourism site, said Meng Xiansheng, an official with Gansu Provincial Tourism Administration Bureau.


Emergency services were called to the cave after Rene fell over the ledge.


He was found dead after a one-hour search of the cave, which was dark and had very complex terrain, police said.


"It then took us more than one hour to carry his body up from the bottom of the cave," Xia said.


Baishiya Limestone Cave is located near Labuleng Temple, a well-known Buddhism holy area and tourism spot.


It has attracted more and more visitors both from home and abroad in recent years, the local tourism authority said.


(China Daily May 9, 2006)


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