Children trapped in Pakistan gondola after cable snaps over ravine


Peshawar/Islamabad (Reuters) – Six children and two teachers are trapped in a gondola dangling 274 metres (900 feet) above a ravine in Pakistan after a cable snapped, with an “extremely risky” helicopter rescue mission being hampered by high winds, officials said on Tuesday.

The children, who have been stranded since 7 a.m. time (0200 GMT), were using the gondola to get to school in a mountainous area in Battagram, about 200 km (125 miles) north of Islamabad, officials said.

Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority said in a statement that a cable had broken in the lift service and two army helicopters had been dispatched for a rescue operation after attempts at fixing the fault had been unsuccessful.

The gondola became stranded half way across a ravine and was dangling by a single cable after the other snapped, Shariq Riaz Khattak a rescue official at the site told Reuters.

“One child has fainted due to heat and fear,” Khattak said.

The rescue mission is complicated due to gusty winds in the area and the fact the helicopters’ rotor blades risk further destabilising the lift, he said.

The military helicopters are both hovering near the stranded cable car, he added.

One security official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said special services troops, trained in sling operations, are involved in this “extremely dangerous and risky operation”.

Sling operations are aerial operations where large loads are moved in geographically difficult terrains.

“All efforts are being made by Pakistan army to rescue the stranded people in the lift.”

People who live in the northern mountainous regions of Pakistan often use chair lifts for transport from one village to another.

Abdul Nasir Khan, a local resident, said the children were going to a high school in Batangai in Alai.

Pakistan’s caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar expressed concern in a post on messaging platform X, formerly known as Twitter.

“I have also directed the authorities to conduct safety inspections of all such private chair lifts and ensure that they are safe to operate and use,” he said in a post.

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