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Fault leaves dozens stranded on one of the world's largest Ferris wheels

Florida’s Orlando Eye is 400 feet tall.

Theme Parks What's New Source: Associated Press

DOZENS OF PEOPLE have been rescued from one of the world’s tallest Ferris wheels after it shut down, leaving them them stranded in mid-air.

A technical crew with The Orlando Eye safely evacuated all 66 stranded riders, an incident that shut down the attraction that towers 400 feet over central Florida, authorities said.

Orange County Fire Rescue spokeswoman Kathleen Kennedy told The Associated Press no one was hurt following the Friday afternoon incident and all were taken off in an operation lasting about three hours with help from several firefighters.

She said the attraction, which is billed by operators as the largest observation wheel on the East Coast, had initially stopped for more than 45 minutes.

Ferris Wheel Stuck Source: Orange County Fire Rescue via AP

Power was restored via a backup generator and a technical team at the attraction, backed by the firefighters, carried out the task of removing riders from the enclosed capsules after each was brought down to the platform, officials said.

Firefighters on ladders helped the ride technical team that manually opened the doors.

Six elite rescue climbers with the fire rescue squad were dispatched but weren’t needed for a climb, Kennedy said. They were part of a 40-person agency special operations team that had climbed the attraction in training before but — a fire rescue spokesperosn said said — “thankfully” such an aerial operation wasn’t needed.

Andrea Alava, a public relations manager for The Orlando Eye, issued a statement that the attraction had shut down as a safety precaution before the team went to a backup operation. She said its teams carried out the actual evacuation, not firefighters as some reports initially suggested.

Ferris Wheel Stuck Source: Makayla Bell via AP

Merlin Entertainments PLC owns the attraction and a similar 442-foot observation wheel in Britain, The London Eye, according to Alava.

At approximately 3:45 p.m., the operating systems for the Orlando Eye indicated a technical default with the system that monitors the wheel position of the Orlando Eye. As a safety precaution, the attraction is designed to automatically shut down if communication with this system is interrupted,” Alava said in an emailed statement.

“Immediately following the default, the operations team began working to resolve the matter to allow guests to disembark the attraction. A backup system was employed that allowed capsules to be moved to the platform and opened manually,” the statement added.

There was no immediate indication when the attraction would reopen.

Read: Alton Towers breakdown leaves visitors hanging upside down >

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