Potential jumper talked down off Expo theater

08:33, July 23, 2010      

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Negotiators try to talk down a man walking along the outer ledge of a high balcony of the Shanghai World Expo Performing Arts Center Thursday. The man had written something in red on a white cloth, but his demands couldn't be verified late last night. Rescuers managed to talk him off the ledge shortly before 11 pm, almost six hours after the standoff began. Photo: Cai Xianmin

Authorities in Shanghai rushed Thursday to defuse a standoff in which a Chinese man threatened to jump off a landmark building at the Shanghai World Expo, resulting in the man being talked down after almost six hours of negotiations.

Details of the negotiation were scarce, and the man's identity hadn't been released, but some eyewitnesses who claimed to have spoken with him said he was in his early 20s and came from eastern Fujian Province.

"The man stepped out over the terrace's guardrail and started to circle along the exterior side, holding a big piece of white cloth on which his grievance was written in red letters," a man from central Hunan Province told the Global Times at the scene.

The incident began at around 5 pm Thursday on the balcony of the Shanghai World Expo Performing Arts Center and the man was back on the ground at 10:53 pm with the help of firemen.

Authorities moved swiftly in tightening up security at the scene.

"Entry into the terrace was stopped from 5 pm, the time when the man began behaving strangely, including trying to show his banner to the public," another Expo visitor from central Hunan Province told the Global Times.

A security guard at the site told the Global Times, "All the visitors on the terrace had been cleared away by 6 pm," noting that they were shuffled out slowly to avoid causing a panic.

The center, located at the heart of the Expo Pudong section, has a main structure of six floors and another two underground. The spot where the man stood is on the top floor, around 23 meters above the ground.
Firemen, police officers and medical personnel rushed to the site upon receiving the emergency call, with an automated firefighting ladder and an inflated mattress in an effort to catch the man should he jump.

"There were at least five rounds of negotiation," a visitor at the site, who declined to be identified, told the Global Times.

At 8 pm, the man had circled one-third of the balcony of the shell-shaped complex. The words on his banner weren't large enough to be seen, and the banner was never stationary long enough to get a good look. He passed the time with rescuers by smoking, and he didn't have anything to eat or drink.

As of 10:30 pm, he could be seen sitting on the awning outside of the guardrail, but he gave himself up shortly thereafter.

"The Performing Arts Center was scheduled to put on a show by the China Oriental Song & Dance Ensemble at 7 pm; the performance wasn't canceled, as many audience members had already passed the ticket entrances," a staff member standing at the center's gate said.

After the performance ended at 8:10 pm, however, the center was completely taped off by police after the audience cleared the building by exiting out of the west gate - the only one still open.

Source:Global Times


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