As it happenedended1692788414

Pakistan cable car – live: 15-year-old survivor says dramatic rescue gives him ‘a second life’

Rescuers pulled those trapped along zipwire by hand after military helicopters stood down for night

Maroosha Muzaffar,Andy Gregory,Shweta Sharma
Wednesday 23 August 2023 12:00 BST

Pakistan cable car video

A student who was stuck in a cable car suspended over a ravine in northwest Pakistan has spoken out about the 15-hour ordeal.

“I thought it was my last day and I will be no more,” Attaullah Shah was quoted as saying by AFP.

The 15-year-old, one of seven students travelling on the chairlift when one of its cables snapped, expressed gratitude for having survived the incident. “God has granted me a second life,” he said.

The families of the students rescued from the broken-down cable car erupted with joy as the last child was freed late last night, an official said.

Night fell as the first of the students was rescued and it was several more hours until the cable car was finally cleared of passengers.

“People kept praying until the last person was rescued,” emergency official Waqar Ahmad told AFP. “Once everyone had been rescued, the families started crying with joy and hugging each other.”

Pakistan’s government confirmed the rescue mission was complete some 15 hours after the car first got stuck, and declared inspections of cable cars will be carried out across the country.


Welcome to The Independent’s live blog following the rescue of eight people from a stranded cable car in Pakistan.

Shweta Sharma22 August 2023 11:12

Pakistan army officer says ‘extremely dangerous’ rescue operation underway to save stranded people

Two Pakistani army helicopters have been dispatched since eight people, including six children, were stranded on the cable car.

The children and two adults are hanging mid-air in a cable car, nine hours since a cable of the lift service snapped.

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”.

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

Shweta Sharma22 August 2023 11:21

Six children trapped in cable car dangling 900ft in air over Pakistan ravine after wire snaps

A rescue is underway for eight people – including six schoolchildren – trapped in a cable car dangling 900ft (274 metres) over a ravine in Pakistan.

Six children and two teachers are trapped in the chair lift after a cable snapped, with a tricky helicopter rescue mission being hampered by high winds, rescue officials said,

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

Six children trapped in cable car dangling 900ft over Pakistan ravine

Two teachers are also believed to be stuck in the car, with high winds making a rescue operation difficult

Shweta Sharma22 August 2023 11:22

One child in cable car has fainted, officials say

A rescue official has said that one of the children in the cable car fainted due to panic and exhaustion.

Shariq Riaz Khattak told Reuters: “One child has fainted due to heat and fear.”

Six children along with two adults have been stranded in the cable car since 7am local time - some seven and a half hours.

The children were using the gondola to get to school in a mountainous area in Battagram, about 200 km (125 miles) north of Islamabad, officials said.

Shweta Sharma22 August 2023 11:31

‘Gusty winds’ hampering rescue operation, rescue officials say

A rescue official has said the operation is getting complicated due to gusty winds in the northern mountainous regions of Pakistan.

Military helicopters have reached the location where the cable car is stuck but are approaching the stranded passengers with caution.

Rescue official Shariq Riaz Khattak said the operation is made more complex by the fact that the helicopters’ rotor blades can produce their own strong drafts, potentially destabilising the lift even more.

The rescue operation has reached a critical point as the sunset in Battagram is expected at 6.48pm local time – in around three hours.

Assistant commissioner Jawad Hussain told Dawn: “If the helicopters fail to rescue the passengers, Rescue 1122 teams will make efforts from the ground via a snorkel.

“We have also called locals from Shangla’s Besham who have experience in conducting similar rescue operations near the Diamer Bhasha dam.”

He said rescue teams are simultaneously trying to spread nets under the cable car to prepare for the possibility of it plummeting to the ground.

Shweta Sharma22 August 2023 11:42

‘For God’s sake help us’

Gulfaraz, a man stuck in the cable car dangling in mid-air, spoke on the phone to a Pakistani TV channel and issued an urgent plea for help from the authorities.

The man, who was identified by only his first name, told Geo TV that those stranded in the cable car do not have drinking water or food. They have now been stuck for almost nine hours.

“For God’s sake help us,” he said. He told the Pakistani news outlet that a teenager who suffers from a heart condition has been unconscious for the last three hours.

He said the teenager had been travelling to the hospital through the chairlift when it got stuck.

The students on board were aged between 10 and 15 years old, he said.

“People in our area are standing here and crying,” he said and urged authorities to send immediate help.

Shweta Sharma22 August 2023 11:56

10 people died in 2017 after cable car plunged into a ravine in Pakistan

This is not the first time Pakistan is witnessing an incident on a high-altitude ropeway. In 2017, at least 10 people died after a cable car fell into a ravine at a mountain resort in the Murree district of Punjab.

That cable car fell 400ft into the gorge as it was transporting people between two hilly areas. Cable cars are the only mode of transportation in some parts of Pakistan, forcing people to take risky commutes on a daily basis.

Villagers frequently use cable cars to get to school, government offices or businesses in mountainous regions, but they are often poorly maintained and every year people die or are injured while traveling in them.

Shweta Sharma22 August 2023 12:13

Rescue helicopter battles to save stricken cable car in Pakistan

Rescue helicopter battles to save stricken cable car in Pakistan
Shweta Sharma22 August 2023 12:15

Two attempts made to rescue eight people

Jawad Hussain, the assistant commissioner of Allai, said so far four choppers have made efforts to carry out a rescue operation using helicopters provided by the Pakistani Army.

A commando made two attempts to reach the cable car using ropes.

A rescue team delivered water and food to the stranded individuals using helicopters.

Individuals from the Shangla and Bisham regions are heading towards Allai to provide assistance.

Shweta Sharma22 August 2023 13:15

Pakistan’s caretaker PM ‘has ordered safety inspection of all private chairlifts’

Pakistan’s caretaker prime minister, Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar, said he has ordered authorities “to urgently ensure safe rescue and evacuation of the 8 people.”

“I have also directed the authorities to conduct safety inspections of all such private chairlifts and ensure that they are safe to operate and use,” he wrote on Twitter/X.

Pakistan’s interim PM Anwaar-ul-haq Kakar said he has ordered safety inspections of all private chairlifts

Andy Gregory22 August 2023 13:28

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