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Thursday, 1 February, 2001, 14:48 GMT
Skydivers leap from Malaysian tower
Base jumpers leap from tower in Kuala Lumpur
A couple freefall after jumping off the tower
Fifty-three skydivers have leapt off the world's fourth tallest communications building, the broadcasting tower in Malaysia's capital, Kuala Lumpur.


It's our life - it's our fate

Sky diver Avery Badenhop
Hundreds of people watched the jumps off the observation deck of the 421m tower to celebrate Kuala Lumpur's City Day.

It is the second time in recent weeks Malaysia has allowed skydivers to parachute off buildings - a sport that has proved controversial in other countries.

Base-jumping - or parachuting from buildings, bridges and cliffs - is considered more dangerous than conventional skydiving from planes and at least 39 people have died since 1980.

It runs foul of trespassing laws in most countries, where governments and property owners fear lawsuits if there is an accident, and many jumps are now carried out in secret.


Malaysia appears keen to promote the sport
However, Malaysia has welcomed the sport, which some say could be promoted as a tourist attraction.

On New Year's Eve, 15 jumpers leapt off Kuala Lumpur's Petronas Twin Towers, the world's tallest buildings.

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad expressed delight at the feat which was watched by 100,000 people.

The company which set up the event hopes to stage an extreme jumping world championship in Malaysia in August.

Freefall

Those taking part in the latest leap included skydivers from America, Australia, Malaysia, Sweden, Canada, Britain, Iceland, Norway, New Zealand and Switzerland.

Jump
The parachutists did 10 jumps each
Each parachutist was expected to make 10 jumps from the 300m mark on the tower during the six-hour event.

The skydivers freefell for about three seconds before opening their parachutes.

"It's a treat to be here," said British jumper Nikolas Hartshorne. "Malaysia has done something that America won't do."

"Getting a building elsewhere is very hard," added American Avery Badenhop. "But here, people seem to realise we should be free. It's our life, it's our fate."

Malaysian officials say they recognise the perils of base jumping and all 53 parachutists signed insurance waivers.

Rozitah Idris, marketing manager for the broadcasting tower, said he believed the sport would help draw tourists to Malaysia.

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See also:

01 Feb 01 | Asia-Pacific
In pictures: Daredevil base-jumpers
04 Dec 99 | Americas
Daredevil jumps from Jesus
22 Nov 99 | UK
Base: The final frontier
02 Dec 99 | Asia-Pacific
Skydive record set in Thailand
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