- Weibo footage from cameras at Tai Qing in Hubei province, China’s biggest karst cave, pulls 150 million hits as visitors are caught vandalising rock formation
Four tourists who broke a stalactite into pieces for souvenirs at a visitor attraction in central China on the weekend apologised and offered to make reparations after a warning from police.
The incident occurred in a cave at the Tai Qing Dong Ecological Leisure Holiday Park in Yuanan county, Hubei province, on Saturday, and was captured on security cameras.
In footage posted on Weibo, China's Twitter-like service, two men and two women stand on stairs next to a giant rock formation, said to be "billions of years old", trying to break pieces off.
After several failed attempts, one man climbs onto the handrail, snaps off a stalactite and passes pieces to his friends.
The tourists were stopped on their way out with two bags of rocks by park staff, who called the police.
On Sunday, the four " who were not named by park authorities " issued an apology, which appeared on the park's WeChat account.
"We realised that our behaviour seriously damaged the park and had a negative impact on society," they said. "We sincerely apologise and are willing to pay for the damage. We beg for the park's forgiveness."
Officials at park said they accepted the apology and called on all visitors to protect the stalactites with "a mind of civilised tourism".
At 20,000 square metres (215,278 sq ft), Tai Qing is the biggest karst cave in China. Karst formations are made of soluble rocks such as limestone and dolomite and known for their labyrinthine cave and sinkhole formations, as well as icicle-like stalactites.
The minute-long Weibo video was viewed 150 million times and attracted scathing comments about the visitors' behaviour.
"Money cannot repair its (the stalactite) damage! These people are just uncultivated!" one user commented.
"The punishment is too light! It cannot deter others from committing this kind of behaviour again!" another wrote.
In April, three men were filmed striking a four-million-year-old stalactite with a rock at the Natural Underground Gallery in Yishui county, Shandong province. Two of the three men were arrested, while a geologist estimated that the stalactite would take millions of years to repair itself.
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