Aussie tourist parachutes from hotel roof to beach

Foreigners visiting Rio de Janeiro are known to plunge into all the thrills the city offers.

But a 41-year-old Australian man who leaped from the roof of a 39-storey hotel and swayed to the white sands of Copacabana beach using a parachute was unique even by Rio's colourful standards.

Police inspector Marcio Mendonca said yesterday he's never seen anything like Mark Nicholas Johnson's stunt.

"So many tourists stay in Copacabana, I've seen about everything," says Mendonca. "But I've never seen anybody jump off a building."

The inspector says Johnson could face up to two years behind bars for charges of endangering the public and also of "invading" the hotel under false pretences by pretending to be a guest. He was arrested after the Monday afternoon jump, but released shortly afterward.

The stunt is similar to one performed by a number of men at Melbourne's Rialto building in March.

The men, dressed in business suits, ordered cocktails at the Vue de Monde restaurant on the 55th floor, before leaping from the restaurant's outdoor deck and parachuting down to street level, where they escaped in a waiting car.