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Should Adventurers be Charged for Rescue?
   2015-10-16 20:26:42    CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Li Shaotong

A file photo of the Dayaoshan National Natural Reserve in Guangxi. [Photo: gxnews.com.cn]

Discussions are underway here in China about whether search-and-rescue services should be paid-for by those found missing.

This follows a decision by staff at a National Park in Guangxi to level fines on a group who strayed out-of-bounds, forcing their eventual rescue.

CRI's Luo Wen reports.

 

The fines have been imposed on a group of 17 hikers who entered a restricted area of the Dayaoshan National Natural Reserve during the National Day holiday on October 2nd.

"The 15 people in the group who were being led will face fines of a thousand kuai. The two people leading them have fines of 15-hundred yuan each."

Lu Baoting, director of the Daoyaoshan Nature Reserve.

He says the group of amateur adventurers were set to leave the park on October 4th.

However, they ended up getting caught up in the heavy rains brought on by a typhoon which rolled into Guangxi during their stay.

More than 700 of local police officers and locals were sent into the area to find them after getting an SOS message.

The search for the group took some 50-hours.

Total cost is over 100-thousand yuan.

Local authorities say the fines they've imposed will help cover part of the costs.

The incident in Guangxi is becoming a far more common headline in China.

Rookie adventurers are increasingly venturing into more dangerous places, most of which have been closed by the authorities.

This has led to a noticeable increase in the number of search-and-rescue operations for lost hikers.

However, in most cases, no fines are levelled.

This has sparked new debate here in China as to whether those who take risks in potentially-dangerous areas should have to pay for them.

Regional authorities in Xinjiang became the first in the country to collect fees for rescue services in August.

Yili Ismail is the former head of Xinjiang's regional emergency office.

"The rescue of trapped hikers has become frequent in Xinjiang in recent years. Conducting a search-and-rescue operation in a remote area requires a huge amount of personnel and money."

The new policy adopted in Xinjiang could lead to missing hikers having to pay some 30-thousand yuan if they need to be extracted by a helicopter.

Yili Ismail says the new policy is meant to be a deterrant.

"For the government, to save people's lives is of paramount importance. But on the other hand, people who go beyond the boundaries could face severe consequences. The fees are mainly meant to warn hikers not to cross the line."

Punishing those who require search-and-rescue is not a new arguement.

In the US, a number of State governments have also brought in rules which allow authorities to charge people for rescue services.

Most in the search-and-rescue community have argued against the move, saying those who find themselves in trouble shouldn't have to consider the financial ramifications before asking for help.

One option to avoid the issue is travellers insurance which can cover search-and-rescue costs, depending on the package you purchase.

For CRI, I'm Luo Wen.

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