Britons lowered to safety after cable car ordeal

A PARTY of British and American tourists were winched to safety after being stranded in two cable cars at150ft for almost eight hours.

Seven Britons were among the party of 40 tourists who were trapped in mid-air when their cable cars' engine failed half way up the 450m Floeya mountain, near Tromso, in Norway.

The tourists, including a handful of children and pensioners, had been spending the hottest day of the year sightseeing in the Norwegian fjords. The outing was part of a cruise with Royal Caribbean Cruise Line's Splendour of the Seas, which sailed from Harwich, in Essex.

Witnesses said that between 15 and 20 passengers were winched to safety before a further complication occurred: the onboard emergency winching equipment seized up in the heat. Expert mountain climbers and a helicopter were called in to stage a rescue operation which began at 2pm and ended at 10pm on Sunday.

The rescue team climbed up the ropes which were dangling from the cars and then used them to lower the remaining passengers to the ground below. The passengers were then taken by helicopter back to the ship about 2km away.

"It was a very difficult rescue," said Chief Supterintendent Kurt Petdersen, of Tromso police. "It was a very terrifying experience for the people on board, but we were amazed how calm they were... It appears that a number of fuses on the winching system stopped simultaneously and the lift came to a halt and couldn't be moved."

The Fjellheisen Lift Service, which runs the cable cars, has started an inquiry into why the winching equipment used to rescue the tourists had failed. "The winches are tested each year. But we have never tested them in such extreme heat [around 26C] in the middle of summer," a spokesman said.

"Obviously, they got too hot and simply seized. We will now have to have them rechecked under these sorts of conditions to find out exactly what happened."

Arthur Nunn, of Shotley, in Suffolk, was on the two-week cruise but was not among those trapped in the cars. He first learned of the drama when the captain made an announcement yesterday morning.

"He explained what had happened and said that fortunately none of the passengers were seriously hurt," Mr Nunn said of the captain. "He said a few had suffered cuts and bruises but did not need to go to hospital. The captain said the sailing would be delayed for a while and that counselling would be available to anybody who wants it."

Besides the 40 tourists trapped in the cable car, a further 40 were stranded at the top of the mountain until they were airlifted to safety by a helicopter.

Speaking after the rescue operation Mark Ittle, shore excursion director for Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, said the tourists were enjoying a cocktail party back aboard the Splendour of the Seas.

"We sent 14 people from the ship to the scene loaded with supplies to try to keep our guests comfortable while they were rescued," he said. "It was a very slow process because the mountain rescue people had to come from quite a long way away but everybody was fine," he said.

"They all eventually rejoined the ship and it set sail for its next port of call, albeit seven-and-a-half hours late."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Life and Style
life
News
news

The party's potential nominations read like a high school race for student body president

Voices
A mother and her child
voices
Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Arts and Entertainment
Cold case: Aaron McCusker and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvReview: Sky Atlantic's ambitious new series Fortitude has begun with a feature-length special
Voices
Three people wearing masks depicting Ed Miliband, David Cameron and Nick Clegg
voicesPolitics is in the gutter – but there is an alternative, says Nigel Farage
News
i100
News
people
Sport
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
footballI have never seen the point of lambasting the fourth official, writes Paul Scholes
Life and Style
Vote green: Benoit Berenger at The Duke of Cambridge in London's Islington
food + drinkBanishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turn over a new leaf
News
Joel Grey (left) poses next to a poster featuring his character in the film
peopleActor Joel Grey comes out at 82
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: IT Technical Support Engineer - PC/Mac

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company are cur...

Ashdown Group: Product Manager - (Product Marketing, Financial Services)

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - Marke...

Recruitment Genius: External Relations Executive

£33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An External Relations Executive is requi...

Ashdown Group: Web Developer (PHP & Wordpress) - Central London

£25000 - £28000 per annum + 25 days holidays & pension: Ashdown Group: Web Dev...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee