Millennium wheel rescue could take hours

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The Independent Online

Tourists could be "stranded for hours" at the top of the 450ft high Millennium Wheel if it malfunctions, a firefighters' leader said today.

Tourists could be "stranded for hours" at the top of the 450ft high Millennium Wheel if it malfunctions, a firefighters' leader said today.

Even when expert help finally arrived, those at the top of the wheel in central London would face a "hazardous" rescue, said Mick Shergold, of the Fire Brigades Union.

He warned that should the wheel cease turning, the fire brigade did not have the equipment to reach people stuck in the highest passenger capsules.

A special rescue team, based around 150 miles away at Alton Towers theme park in Staffordshire, would have to be called on. They would then have to scale the wheel and bring passengers down in a harness.

"This rescue could be extremely hazardous and everything would take a very long time," said Mr Shergold, who is the FBU's London regional secretary.

"I just cannot think what can be done to get round this problem."

The 1,500-tonne wheel - officially called the British Airways London Eye - towers over the South Bank of the River Thames and is due to open on December 31.

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