Almost drama in the village of Zhongshan near the city of Chongqing in China. A video that went viral on social media shows a student, 24, from Wuhan nearly drowning in a river last Saturday. She slips on rocks and falls into deep water.
People scream at one another, the cameraman runs to the bank of a river and films the student floating helplessly in the water and threatening to drown. She can barely stay afloat and keeps submerging. Suddenly she disappears under a bridge and shortly afterwards appears on the other side – motionless.
Shortly afterwards, however, the rescue approaches: Stephen Ellison (61), British Consul General of Chongqing, is walking along the river, does not hesitate, takes off his shoes and jumps into the water with his clothes. He swims to the student and saves her from certain death. A lifebuoy is thrown to him so that he can bring himself and the student ashore.
Few Chinese can swim
Since the rescue on Saturday, the topic has been clicked 170 million times on the Weibo short message service. Speaking to the BBC, Ellison said, “Just as we got to the edge, she started breathing again, which was a great relief.” A few hours later he and the student went out and took photos.
As “The Guardian” writes, the student is slowly recovering from the accident. She is very grateful and has invited Ellison to dinner with her family this weekend.
Social media debates why so many people watched but didn’t help. Possible explanations for this behavior: Some users say that relatively few Chinese can swim. Others suspect that the audience was afraid of being involved in this accident.
Stephen Ellison is a hero
Ellison is celebrated as a hero. The British Embassy announced on Twitter: “We are proud of our Chongqing Consul General Stephen Ellison, who jumped into a river on Saturday to rescue a drowning student and bring her ashore.”
The Chinese ambassador to Great Britain, Liu Xiaoming (64), praised Ellison: “His name will be remembered not only in the Chongqing area, but throughout China. His act of heroism and kindness will be a well-told and widespread story of friendship between China and Britain. “ (myi)