The tourist, Erin Langworth (22), was however able to swim to the Zimbabwean side of the river and was then rescued by the bridge crew and a local medical response team, according to Clement Mukwasi, group Public Relations manager for Shearwaters Adventure.
Shearwaters has been running bungee jumping in Victoria Falls for the past 17 years. Bungee jumping is a favourite sport for both local and foreign tourists.
Mukwasi said the cause of the cord failure is unknown and they are waiting results from forensic tests. “We take this exceptionally seriously and our objective now is to learn from this incident and review every component part of our operation to determine where we can further minimise the risk of bungee jumping from the Victoria Falls Bridge,” he said.
Mukwasi hailed the bravery and survival skills of Langworth which he said contributed significantly to her own rescue. He said “her continued positive disposition and strength of character has been an inspiration to us all.”
Mukwasi said Shearwaters is in contact with Langworth who is recuperating in South Africa where she has received expert medical attention. Langworth has been released from hospital and is set to return to Australia.
He said despite the experience of the crew and parameters and procedures, which have successfully guided the operations for 17 years and over 150 000 jumpers, “we were unable to prevent this accident”.
As a result of the incident, Mukwasi said, Shearwaters has put in place measures to ensure that such an event won’t happen again.
He said the company has removed all bungee cords from the system, which were made with the same batch of rubber as that used to make the failed cord.
These have been retained for further testing. An entirely new set of bungee cords have been installed on the system, Mukwasi said.
He added that the cords have been extensively load tested and inspected thoroughly and the company is satisfied that they are safe to jump on.
Mukwasi said in addition to the normal checks and procedures Shearwaters has instigated additional daily and intermittent checks on the bungee cords and is satisfied that these checks and procedures are more than sufficient to ensure clients’ safety.
“Our own crew are conducting test jumps before the commencement of daily operations and throughout the day,” he said.
Experts in South Africa have been contacted and are expected to be on site this week.
“The broken cord has been carefully stored and will shortly be sent to South Africa for forensic testing,” he said.