Zambian minister offers to bungee-jump with Langworthy

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Zambia's tourism minister, Given Lubinda, said jumping off the Victoria Falls bridge was a thrilling experience.

Zambia's tourism minister has offered to bungee-jump with the Australian woman who plunged into the Zambezi River after her cord snapped in two.

Given Lubinda has already leapt off the Victoria Falls bridge in an effort to restore Zambia's battered image.

Video footage showing the 22-year-old Erin Langworthy plunging head-first into the rapids became an overnight online sensation.

Tourism is a major money-spinner in Zambia, creating many much-needed jobs.

The minister made his bungee jump on Sunday - to quell safety fears after the news of the snapped bungee rope spread around the world.

He said he had heard that Ms Langworthy was planning to return to Zambia.

The Australian, who jumped on New Year's Eve, escaped with just cuts, bruises and a broken collarbone after surviving the fall of 110 metres (360ft).

She had to swim with her feet tied together to the Zimbabwean side of the water, and had to free the cord when it got caught on rocks.

Mr Lubinda, who says he is approaching 50, told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme it was his responsibility as tourism minister to be the "guinea pig" and "take the risk" in order to restore people's faith in bungee-jumping and in Zambia's tourism.

"I am hoping that all those who watched a middle-aged person jumping down the bridge and coming back up smiling will be encouraged not just to jump but also to come and visit Zambia," Mr Lubinda said.

Mr Lubinda, who has bungee-jumped once before, said he was very confident that the rope would not snap.

He also pointed out that, as far as the records show, Ms Langworthy's accident is the only one out of the estimated 150,000 jumps since the sport was introduced to Zambia 17 years ago.

The minister said his second jump was a thrilling experience.

"Standing at the edge of the bridge and looking down and seeing nothing but water and rocks - and knowing that the only thing that holds you is a bungee rope - is extremely fearful," he said.

"But just the experience of going down, and knowing you have the courage to do it, is itself a thrill."

Zambia is home to Victoria Falls, one of the natural wonders of the world, and is an increasingly popular safari destination.

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