Skip to main content

Chinese villager builds floating pods to survive disasters

By Alexandra Hoegberg, for CNN
December 13, 2012 -- Updated 0839 GMT (1639 HKT)
Chinese villager Liu Qiyuan, pictured here on December 11, has constructed six survival pods that can be used in the event of tsunamis and earthquakes. Chinese villager Liu Qiyuan, pictured here on December 11, has constructed six survival pods that can be used in the event of tsunamis and earthquakes.
Survival pods
Carbon fiber
Unique decor
Emergency exit
Built to float
Rescue vessels?
Team work
Pod builder
  • A Chinese villager has built six 'survival pods'
  • The pods are built to withstand tsunamis or earthquakes
  • The pods were partly inspired by the disaster movie '2012' and the 2004 Asian tsunami
  • It cost almost $320,000 to build the six pods

Hong Kong (CNN) -- A Chinese villager has spent almost $320,000 on constructing six floating survival pods that are built to withstand tsunamis, earthquakes and other natural disasters, Hong Kong's South China Morning Post has reported.

The pods, weighing four tons each and consisting of two thick layers of fire-proof and shock-resistant carbon fiber, sit in Liu Qiyuan's yard in Qiantun, a small village in the northern Chinese province of Hebei.

With December 21 looming, a date when some have predicted the apocalypse would occur, the bizarre contraptions have attracted a huge amount of attention, but Liu told The South China Morning Post that his motivation for building them went further back.

While the Hollywood disaster movie '2012' and the 2004 Asian tsunami were factors, Liu said he ultimately made the decision to build the pods after his village was swept by doomsday rumors in the early 1990s.

Despite assuring his young daughter that the end was not nigh, Liu said the girl asked him to build an indestructible house. Now, Liu is making good on that promise.

The airtight spheres have varying interiors, but they all come with oxygen tanks and seatbelts, and each is equipped to hold about 14 people. They are designed to remain upright when floating in water.

Some people in his village thought he was crazy when he began construction in March, and both his daughter and wife tried to talk him out of the project.

But Liu is hoping that governments and international organizations will adopt his pods and use them in natural disasters.

"Men don't just live to make money," the South China Morning Post quoted him as saying. "My design could be used by cruise ships to save lives. If anyone survives a shipwreck with my device, I will call it a good investment."

Part of complete coverage on
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1526 GMT (2326 HKT)
Advocates say the exam includes unnecessarily invasive and irrelevant procedures -- like a so-called "two finger" test.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0009 GMT (0809 HKT)
Supplies of food, clothing and fuel are running short in Damascus and people are going hungry as the civil war drags on.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1801 GMT (0201 HKT)
Supporters of Richard III want a reconstruction of his head to bring a human aspect to a leader portrayed as a murderous villain.
February 5, 2013 -- Updated 1548 GMT (2348 HKT)
Robert Fowler spent 130 days held hostage by the same al Qaeda group that was behind the Algeria massacre. He shares his experience.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0507 GMT (1307 HKT)
As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
The relationship is, once again, cold enough to make Obama's much-trumpeted "reset" in Russian-U.S. relations seem thoroughly off the rails.
Ten years on, what do you think the Iraq war has changed in you, and in your country? Send us your thoughts and experiences.
February 5, 2013 -- Updated 1215 GMT (2015 HKT)
Musician Daniela Mercury has sold more than 12 million albums worldwide over a career span of nearly 30 years.
Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0006 GMT (0806 HKT)
Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1237 GMT (2037 HKT)
That galaxy far, far away is apparently bigger than first thought. The "Star Wars" franchise will get two spinoff movies, Disney announced.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 2327 GMT (0727 HKT)
It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.