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Journalist in dramatic submerged car tests

(Xinhua)

09:13, July 27, 2012

A journalist and a diver tested tactics to escape from a flooded car yesterday amid widespread fears triggered by the death of a Beijing driver on Saturday in the heaviest rains to hit the capital in decades.

Luo Yanyan, formerly a professional swimmer and now a journalist with Information Daily, a newspaper in Nanchang, capital of east China's Jiangxi Province, had planned to conduct the test alone, but local authorities insisted she be accompanied by a diver.

The survival test began at 9am in the Ganjiang River, witnessed by a crowd of reporters and curious residents.

Luo, 28, sat in the front passenger seat of a Volkswagen Santana, and Cao Dongjun, a diver with the local fire brigade, took the driver's seat.

They had life vests, emergency hammers, a cell phone, a pair of high-heel shoes and a can of oxygen.

Two other divers stood by on a speedboat as a crane lowered the car into the water.

Kicked door open

When the lower half of the car was underwater, Luo and Cao could still easily open the doors. However, when the car was three-quarters submerged, Luo could not open the door using only her hands.

"I tried, and eventually kicked it open," she said.

In the final test, the whole car was submerged.

Cao tried to break the window, first with the cell phone and then with the shoes, but failed. "I was suffocating and had to take the oxygen bottle," he said.

He tried the hammers and broke one window.

In a further test, he removed the headrest from the car seat to break open another window using the two pins underneath - a "golden rule" that has spread quickly on the Internet recently but which many drivers had not known about.

The two escaped from the broken windows and swam to the bank to loud applause.

"Without the oxygen bottle, breathing would have been difficult when three-quarters of the car was underwater," said Cao. "In such cases, one would be too weak to force the window open."

In case of flooding, he said drivers should force open the door as soon as possible. "If the door doesn't open, you need to break open the window with sharp objects instead of waiting to be rescued."

On Taobao.com, nearly 1,600 orders have poured in for an emergency hammer that costs 32 yuan (US$5).

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