The batch of rubber used to make the bungee jumping chord that snapped, resulting in the plunging of an Australian tourist, Erin Langworthy, into the Zambezi metres from the Victoria Falls Bridge on New Year’s Eve was weak, it has been revealed.
According to a statement from Mr Clement Mukwasi, Shearwater group public relations manager, the rubber became weaker due to age and use but also as a result of environmental issues like moisture and ultra-violet radiation.
“The forensic investigation indicated that the batch of rubber used to make the cord was weak when compared to new rubber. The assumption is that the rubber became weaker due to age and use but also as a result of environmental issues like moisture and UV degradation,” said Mr Mukwasi.
“Regrettably our inspection process, though in line with international standards and having worked successfully for us for 17 years did not pick up this weakness.”
He said the bungee rubber used in the manufacture of the malfunctioning bungee cord had been supplied by a South African company called Face Adrenalin.
“This was the only time we have ever sourced rubber from Face Adrenalin and it is the only time we have had such an accident. At the end of the day what happened here was equipment failure caused by weak rubber,” said Mr Mukwasi.
“New inspection and testing measures have now been implemented, which address this, and we are very confident that this incident will not be repeated.
“Now that the forensic findings are known to us we are confident that the new measures implemented by ourselves will prevent an incident like this happening again in the future.
“In light of this it is our intention to recommence bungee jumping on Friday, 27 January 2012. The steps we have taken include the daily load testing of the bungee cords to confirm their strength and thorough inspections of the bungee cords after every 75 jumps.”
He said the company, Victoria Falls Bungee, has very well laid down operating procedures and also comply with the Australian and New Zealand Industry Standards on the operation of bungee jumping.
“In terms of client safety we do not only constantly monitor, check and inspect our safety system but we also subject ourselves to bi-annual independent safety audits carried out by an internationally certified South African organisation.”
The investigations were conducted by a South African-based company.
Source: Weak cord caused bungee jumping mishap (25/01/12)