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The broken cable car in Pakistan PA

Owner of Pakistan cable car arrested by police on charges of ignoring safety measures

Six children and two adults were pulled to safety in a daring rescue operation following a 16-hour ordeal.

LAST UPDATE | 23 Aug 2023

THE OWNER OF the cable car in which schoolchildren got trapped in yesterday in Pakistan has been arrested on charges of ignoring safety measures.  

Six children and two adults were pulled from the cable car in a daring rescue yesterday.

One of the youngest was grabbed by a commando attached to a helicopter by rope, while others were lowered to the ground in a makeshift chairlift constructed from a wooden bed frame and ropes.

Osama Sharif, one of those rescued, said: “I had heard stories about miracles, but I saw a miraculous rescue happening with my own eyes.”

The 15-year-old had been heading to school yesterday to receive the results of his final exams when the cable snapped.

“We suddenly felt a jolt, and it all happened so suddenly that we thought all of us are going to die,” he said in a telephone interview.

Some of those on board the cable car had mobile phones and started making calls. Worried parents tried to reassure the children.

“They were telling us ‘Don’t worry, help is coming’,” said Osama.

After several hours, they saw helicopters flying nearby.

Locally-made cable cars are a widely used method of transport in the mountainous Battagram district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

Gliding across steep valleys, they cut down travel time to schools, workplaces and businesses, but they are often poorly maintained, and every year people die or are injured while using them.

Police arrested Gul Zarin, the owner of the cable car, today on charges of ignoring safety measures.

Local authorities in the north-western mountainous regions also said they would close all cable cars believed to be unsafe.

Thousands of people turned out to watch the risky rescue operation yesterday.

At one stage, a video showed a rope lowered from a helicopter swaying wildly as a child, secured by a harness, was pulled up.

In fact, the aircraft added an element of danger. The air currents churned up by their whirling blades risked weakening the only cable preventing the cable car from crashing to the bottom of the river canyon.

“We cried, and tears were in our eyes, as we feared the cable car will go down,” Osama said.

After sunset, with the helicopters no longer able to fly, rescuers shifted tactics.

They used a makeshift chairlift to approach the cable car using the one cable that was still intact, local police chief Nazir Ahmed said.

Shouts of “God is great” erupted as the chairlift was lowered to the ground in the final stage of the operation just before midnight.

Ahmed said the children received oxygen as a precaution before being handed over to their parents, many of whom burst into tears of joy.

Two other children who survived, Rizwan Ullah and Gul Faraz, told Pakistani Geo TV they had come so close to death that they would not be able to forget the ordeal for years.

Authorities are preparing to repair the broken cable car, but Gul urged the government to build new roads to link their village with other areas so they do not need to use the dangerous mode of transport.

Ata Ullah, another rescued student, said he would steel himself for the next time he has to board one.

“I feel fear in my mind about using the cable car, but I have no other option. I will go to my school again when the cable car is repaired,” he said.

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