World’s longest glass bridge closes for maintenance two weeks after opening

The world’s highest and longest glass-bottomed bridge opened to great fanfare on 22 August. But just 13 days later the structure, which spans a spectacular canyon between two mountain cliffs in central Hunan province, has been forced to close.

Officials told CNN that the popularity of the tourist attraction meant urgent maintenance in the area was needed.

“We’re overwhelmed by the volume of visitors,” a spokesperson from the Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon’s marketing and sales department said.

He said the bridge could hold 8,000 people per day but demand exceeded that ten times.

Officials said on Chinese microblogging site Weibo that while there hadn’t been any damage to the bridge, that it was being closed due to the “urgency to improve and update” the facility.

After the announcement tourists complained that they had booked travel to the region and were disappointed the attraction would be closed.

The bridge is located in China’s spectacular Zhangjiajie mountains – the inspiration for American blockbuster Avatar.

Measuring 430m (1,400ft) long and suspended 300m above the ground, the bridge spans the canyon between two mountain cliffs in Zhangjiajie park.

Six metres wide and made of 99 panels of clear glass, the bridge was designed by Israeli architect Haim Dotan.

Following an alarming glass bridge cracking incident at the Yuntai mountain in northern Henan in 2015, authorities in Zhangjiajie were eager to demonstrate the safety of the structure when it opened.

They organised a string of media events, including one where people were encouraged to try and smash the bridge’s glass panels with a sledge hammer, and another where they drove a car across it.

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