Pakistan cable car: Rescuers save eight people trapped in stranded vehicle 350m above canyon
Eight people have been saved from a broken cable car that was left dangling 350m above a canyon. Army commandos in Pakistan used helicopters and a makeshift chairlift to save the people trapped inside.
Six children and two men became trapped yesterday morning (August 22) after a cable snapped whilst they were crossing over a river canyon in the Battagram district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. The children were on their way to school when the cable car was left suspended over the river.
The rescue operation took over 12 hours, with relatives of those trapped inside standing nearby and praying, whilst watching the operation unfold. The rescue operation transfixed much of the country, as Pakistanis crowded around televisions in shops, offices, restaurants and hospitals.
Pakistan’s caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haw Kakar has congratulated the military and other rescuers for successfully saving everyone inside. Mr Kakar said on X, previously known as Twitter: “Relieved to know that Alhamdolillah all the kids have been successfully and safely rescued. Great team work by the military, rescue departments, district administration as well as the local people.”
The rescue operation faced many hurdles, including strong winds during the day and helicopters being grounded after sunset. Rescuers then moved their attempts from the helicopters to a makeshift chairlift running along the one remaining cable that was left intact.
A statement released by the military said the rescue operation was delicate and involved the work of commandos, army pilots, the air force and support from local authorities. Footage of the rescue operation on local TV stations, showed children in harnesses being taken to safety.
The strong winds, which had impacted much of the operation, continued to make the operation difficult, with commando’s ropes seen swaying in the wind as they made their way back and forth to the cable car.
The rescued children were then reunited with their families with many bursting into tears at the relief. Senior police officer Nazir Ahmed, who was present during the rescue operation said: “Everyone was praying for this moment.”
Many people in Pakistan’s mountainous regions use chairlifts to shorten distances and make travel easier. An unspecified number of people die or are injured each year in incidents involving poorly maintained chairlifts in the country.
In 2017, ten people were killed when a cable car lift, installed by local villagers in the mountain resort of Murree, broke and fell into a ravine.