The moment a student was saved from drowning after slipping into a river at a popular tourist spot has been caught on camera.
Video of the terrifying incident has since been viewed tens of millions of times on Chinese social media and has gained added attention after the man who jumped in to save her turned out to be a British consul general working in China.
The viral clip shows the woman appearing to pose for a photo at the river’s edge in the picturesque ancient town of Zhongshan in China’s Chongqing over the weekend.
The woman, 24, can be seem slipping on a wet rock and falls into the water before the woman filming the surrounding ancient architecture alerts other tourists who gather on a bridge above as the woman struggles to stay afloat.
As she drifts under the bridge she emerges on the other side unresponsive before Stephen Ellison, the UK’s consul general in Chongqing, is seen taking his shoes off and jumping in and swimming towards her.
A life ring is thrown into the water and the pair are pulled to the water’s edge and out of the river.
Mr Ellison has since drawn praise on Twitter-like Weibo after the video went viral.
“We welcome such foreigners to travel to China!” one person said.
“This is the difference between Chinese and foreigners. As a Chinese person, I feel sad,” another wrote.
“He is a hero!” another said.
Keen triathlete Mr Ellison, 61, told the BBC the woman was unconscious in the water when he jumped in.
“She was not breathing and for a short time we feared the worst. But as we got back to the side, she started breathing again," he said, revealing she is now recovering from the incident.
Praise for heroic UK diplomat
Mr Ellison was helped by villagers with fresh clothes after jumping in while he was fed and given gifts for his heroics, Hong Xing News reported.
The video was posted to Twitter by the UK government’s UK in China account, saying they are “immensely proud” of Mr Ellison.
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab also praised Mr Ellison’s “bravery and commitment” in a separate tweet.
Very proud of Stephen Ellison, our new Consul General in Chongqing, China, for saving a student from drowning at the weekend. His bravery and commitment demonstrates the very best of British diplomats around the world. https://t.co/UOKkWl1Sil
— Dominic Raab (@DominicRaab) November 16, 2020
Bystanders who watched on in the video while the woman struggled in the water were criticised in comments on the post.
However large swathes of the Chinese population have little or no swimming competency with little emphasis placed on learning to swim when growing up.
Chinese people can also be reluctant to help during an accident over fears they may be implicated over injuries sustained.
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