The exploration community in China and worldwide finds itself on tenterhooks as the nation’s preeminent diver and explorer, Han Ting, has been declared missing following an audacious dive into the Tianchuang underwater cave in Guangxi Province. The local government of Jiudun village relayed the distressing news on Tuesday.
Upon realization of the potential danger Han was in, rescue teams promptly made their way to the Tianchuang scenic spot, a section within Du’an, Guangxi. Given the duration Han had been submerged — over 50 hours at the last report — the urgency was palpable. To aid the human teams, professional underwater intelligent robots have been deployed, amplifying the search efforts, as noted by Central Television.
The initial alert about Han’s prolonged absence was raised on Sunday morning when the local emergency management bureau in Du’an received a report concerning the missing diver. Witnesses relayed that Han embarked on his underwater journey late Saturday night, around 23:00, and as dawn broke the next day, there was still no sign of him. Growing concern eventually propelled them to seek help.
The Tianchuang underwater cave, often referred to as China’s subaqueous answer to Mount Qomolangma, has been the site of numerous diving records. Highlighting the cave’s challenges and Han’s intimate familiarity with it, a fellow professional diver named Ren shared that Han had, just earlier this year, conducted a rescue mission at this very spot to aid two diving trainees.
Han’s intent for this dive, as Ren divulged, was to push boundaries further by attempting a 300-meter dive into the cave, all while broadcasting it live on October 12. A testament to his expertise and fearless spirit, Han is also the brains behind the Lanqi Diving club. He was no stranger to the local government staffers at Du’an, often being their first point of call in times of underwater crises.
This explorer’s achievements are nothing short of phenomenal. Earlier in May, the China Exploration and Research Society recognized his feat of diving 277 meters into the Tianchuang underwater cave, a mere 9 meters shy of the world record. However, diving into this cave is not for the faint-hearted. As shared by Han’s diving club, the cave’s depths remain uncharted, presenting unpredictable challenges from undulating travel routes, potential underground rivers, to unstable rock walls.
Reiterating the unpredictability of such dives, an amateur diver emphasized the calm waters of the Tianchuang scenic spot but also cautioned against the inherent risks of deep diving, such as potential decompression sickness.
Han’s credentials are impeccable. Recognized as China’s first comprehensive diving coach, covering Scuba, free diving, and technical diving, his contributions to the field are unparalleled. He was integral in formulating the domestic scientific research diving system and also served as the technical diving mentor to the renowned actor, Wu Jing. Han’s exploration pursuits also saw him involved in shipwreck archaeology and the poignant task of searching for remains of the Long March Red Army martyrs in Guangxi.
The Tianchuang scenic spot, nestled in the Chengjiang River Basin’s upper stretches within Jiudun village, is defined by its carbonate rock formations and houses four inclined well-type caves.