x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Chinese cook crashes hot-air balloon in trip to reach disputed isles

A Chinese cook who crashed into the sea while trying to fly on a hot-air balloon to islands claimed by both China and Japan has been rescued by Japan’s Coastguard.

The Chinese balloonist was rescued by Japanese authorities. Japan Coastguard / AFP Photo
The Chinese balloonist was rescued by Japanese authorities. Japan Coastguard / AFP Photo

TOKYO // A Chinese cook who crashed into the sea while trying to fly on a hot-air balloon to islands claimed by both China and Japan has been rescued by Japan’s Coastguard.

Xu Shuaijun, 35, crashed yesterday after hitting turbulence as he approached the islands, known in Japan as Senkaku and Diayou in China, the Coastguard said today.

The Coastguard received a missing-person report from Taiwanese officials, and a Coastguard helicopter spotted Xu about 20 kilometres from the islands, they said.

He was picked up by a boat and later handed over to a Chinese patrol ship, according to the Coastguard. His life was not in danger, although other details were not available.

The islands have been a sore point in bilateral relations for years, and nationalists from China, Taiwan and Hong Kong have occasionally tried to sail to them.

A recent visit by Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe to a Tokyo shrine that honours World War II war criminals has outraged China, adding to the bilateral tensions.

* Associated Press