Just 13 days after opening to the public, the world’s longest glass-bottomed bridge spanning a canyon in China has been closed amid unexpectedly high demand from tourists wanting to cross it.
Shutting the bridge on 2 September, authorities denied any structural problems with the bridge, saying rather that too many people wanted to walk on it.
People fled screaming from the structure, which is suspended more than a thousand metres in the air
"We’re overwhelmed by the volume of visitors," a spokesperson from the Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon’s marketing and sales department told CNN, adding that the capacity of the glass bridge was limited to 8,000 visitors per day, but total demand was ten times as much.
However, in announcing the closure on China’s social media platform Weibo, officials said urgent upgrades were needed, reports the BBC.
At nearly half a kilometre (430m) in length, the $3.4m bridge links two peaks in the Zhangjiajie mountains in Hunan Province, suspended a dizzying 300m above ground. Designed by Israeli architect Haim Dotan, the six-metre-wide deck is made from 99 panes of glass.
Glass bridges are becoming something of a fad in China, where tourism authorities seem keen to push design conventions in order to give tourists thrilling new perspectives on the country’s lush and precipitous landscapes.
But sensitivity over safety is high after a shattered panel caused panic at an even higher glass bridge at Yuntaishan in Central China’s Henan Province in October last year.
That bridge, too, had only been open for around two weeks before a visitor’s dropped heavy Thermos flask caused a fine web of cracks on a panel meant to support 800kg per sq m.
People fled screaming from the structure, which is suspended more than a thousand metres in the air, Chinese media reported.
Nobody was hurt, but at the newer Zhangjiajie bridge, authorities sought to tackle fears head-on by driving a loaded car across it, and even by inviting journalists to try and smash their way through with sledgehammers.
Zhangjiajie authorities did not say when the new bridge, located in the the Shiniuzhai Geopark, would reopen.
Image: At nearly half a kilometre in length, the $3.4m bridge links two peaks in the Zhangjiajie mountains in Hunan Province (Getty Images/Fred Dufour)