China tourist survives killer Kenya floods by clinging to tree in her underwear overnight

A tourist from China has told how she managed to escape a deadly flood in Kenya by spending 12 hours up a tree, losing all her luggage before emerging from the raging water wearing just a T-shirt and underwear.

The woman’s will to survive has wowed mainland social media.

Liu Jiatu, 28, who lives in Thailand, was caught in the flood at the famous Masai Mara tourist destination on May 1.

Heavier than usual rainfall had pounded Eastern Africa due to the combined effects of El Niño and the long rainy season from March to May 2024.

Liu was staying at the luxury Basecamp Masai Mara tented hotel which hosted former US President Barack Obama in 2006.

She was wakened by bed-shaking thunder at 1.15 am and found herself knee-deep in water.

Kenya is a popular destination for Chinese tourists, but recent floods left many shocked. Photo: Shutterstock

The tent’s main entrance was locked and there was no time to find the key. Chaos ensued with floating furniture in the darkness, Liu decided to use brute force to break out of the tent.

“Carrying two phones in my mouth, I tried to tear a hole in the tent fabric. My survival instinct gave me unprecedented strength and I succeeded,” Liu said.

Once outside, she climbed up a tree and saw her tent being ripped apart by a torrent.

Liu’s driver was unable to help her and she spent a cold night up the tree with a local who did not speak English.

As dawn broke, she found herself surrounded by rotting leaves and an array of insects, her feet bruised and scratched. Below her, the water swirled menacingly.

To keep her spirits up, she watched videos of her pet dog on her phone.

“To stay awake, I started pricking my finger with the pin from my earring. Afraid of dehydration and knowing that no supplies would reach me, I bit my mouth, thinking I could drink my blood to survive if needed,” Liu wrote on Weibo.

At 7 am, a helicopter team arrived but the dense trees made a rescue impossible.

At noon, the local youth she was stuck up the tree with used ropes to move her to safety. At 12.30 pm Liu finally set foot on dry land.

Her will to survive has impressed mainland social media.

“Feels like you could write a book, your survival skills are strong!” one online observer said.

“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, your good fortune lies ahead!” another added.

The floods killed hundreds of people and left tens of thousands more injured and displaced. Photo: AP

It is not Liu’s first brush with extreme danger.

In July 2019, she suffered a sudden subarachnoid haemorrhage while at the gym and survived despite being in critical condition.

A medical examination showed she only suffered minor infections in her wounds.

“I have cheated death twice in five years, I am now terrifyingly strong!” Liu wrote on Weibo.

She has demanded an apology and compensation from the hotel.

A total of 257 people were killed and 293,000 others displaced across 31 of Kenya’s 47 counties as a result of the floods.



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