Pakistan: All 8 passengers trapped in dangling cable car rescued, confirms interim PM Kakar
The children were on their way to school when the incident occurred on Tuesday morning. The cable car is privately run by locals for transportation across rivers as there are no roads or bridges in the area.
Local residents gather around media representatives at the end of the rescue operation that saved students trapped in a cable car in Pashto village, northwestern Pakistan, on late August 22, 2023. Military helicopters and zipline experts rescued eight people, including six school boys, trapped for hours in a stricken cable car high above a remote Pakistan valley. (Photo by FAROOQ NAEEM/AFP via Getty Images)
ALL eight people trapped inside a stricken cable car dangerously dangling hundreds of meters above a deep ravine in a remote part of northwest Pakistan have been rescued successfully after over 14-hour-long operation, the country’s interim prime minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar said on Tuesday (22).
The trapped included six children.
The eight were left stranded in the gondola earlier in the day when one of the cables snapped while the passengers were crossing a river canyon in Battagram district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
The children were on their way to school when the incident occurred around 8 am in Battagram district’s Allai tehsil.
“Relieved to know that all the kids have been successfully and safely rescued. Great teamwork by the military, rescue departments, district administration as well as the local people,” Kakar, who took charge earlier this month, posted on X.
The successful completion of the operation was confirmed in a statement issued by Rescue 1122, Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper reported.
Assistant commissioner (AC) Jawad Hussain said the cable car is privately run by locals for transportation across rivers as there are no roads or bridges in the area.
The cable car remained dangling in the middle of a deep ravine surrounded by towering mountains and a rocky surface along with the Jhangri river for hours.
The rescue operation to retrieve the stuck passengers began in the morning, but the first two children could not be rescued before late in the evening.
They were rescued by the armed forces amid rough weather and following multiple attempts shortly before the sunset as part of an operation that saw the use of four helicopters.
Once the darkness set in, state broadcaster PTV News reported that the aerial operation had been “called off” due to “night and weather conditions” but rescue efforts through “alternative means” were ongoing, the report said.
Since helicopters could not fly after sunset, rescuers eventually shifted from an airborne effort to a risky operation that involved using one cable that was still intact to approach the car with the chairlift.
Earlier, two helicopters belonging to the Pakistan Army and the Pakistan Air Force arrived at the site for a rescue operation. Two attempts were made to move towards the chairlift.
One of the helicopters then moved away.
The local administration along with Rescue 1122 teams were present at the spot, but due to the height and the hilly terrain, it was not possible for rescue officials to carry out a relief operation, Hussain said. Ghulamullah, chairman of the Allai Valley area, earlier had told Geo News that “every time the helicopter lowered the rescuer closer to the chairlift, the wind from the helicopter would shake and disbalance the chairlift making the children scream in fear”.
Gulfaraz, a 20-year-old who was inside the chairlift, told Geo News over the phone that they did not have drinking water in the chairlift.
Kakar had directed authorities to rescue all the people stuck in the chairlift and asked the national and provincial disaster management authorities to utilise all the available resources. He issued directives to ensure safety measures for cable cars in the hilly areas.
“The chairlift accident in Battagram, KP is really alarming,” he posted on X.
“I’m closely monitoring and tracking the rescue efforts in Batgram, KP. I am happy that progress is being made, and thanks to the efforts of our army personnel, Air Force, rescue organizations, district administration and others, students stuck in the chairlift have started returning to the ground safely. I’ll keep monitoring closely till the completion of the rescue operation, insha Allah,” he said in another post.
According to a local school teacher, Zafar Iqbal, at least 150 students take the hazardous journey to school by cable car every day due to the lack of road facilities in the area, the Dawn newspaper reported.
(With PTI inputs)