UPDATE 3 - 5 children rescued from stranded cable car dangling above ravine in Pakistan

UPDATE 3 - 5 children rescued from stranded cable car dangling above ravine in Pakistan

Rescue efforts ongoing in northwestern Allai Tehsil region as 6 remain stranded in cable car

ADDS RESCUE OF MORE CHILDREN, REVISES HEADER, LEDE

By Aamir Latif

KARACHI, Pakistan (AA) - The Pakistan Army rescued three additional school children from a cable car dangling above a ravine in northwest Pakistan, raising the number of rescued passengers to five, the military said in a statement late Tuesday.

The operation to rescue the remaining three individuals trapped in the cable car is continuing, it said.

The army has called off an hours-long aerial operation late Tuesday due to low visibility and rough weather, however, the ground operation is still underway using "alternative means,” according to state-run Pakistan Television.

The ground operation involves a small cable sliding on a rope to rescue the remaining passengers, local broadcaster Geo News reported.

Footage from a distance that was aired on Geo News showed a man, in a risky way, sliding on a rope and approaching the cable car, however, it was unclear if he was going to deliver food and water to the trapped passengers.

Earlier, two children -- one later transported to a hospital -- were rescued in a helicopter sling operation using a ladder after more than nine hours, said a police spokesman.

Crowds gathered in the area cheered and clapped as the rescued children got off an army helicopter.

The rescue operation, which is being hindered by gusty winds and darkness, is underway to rescue the remaining six passengers.

At least seven schoolchildren and an adult in northwestern Pakistan were stranded in the air at 8 a.m. local time (0300GMT) on Tuesday after the wire of a cable car snapped in the Batgram district of northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, which borders neighboring Afghanistan.

Earlier, army personnel airdropped food and water to the stranded passengers.

The operation needs to be completed before sunset otherwise it will be very difficult to save the trapped passengers, Khewa Gul, a local administration official, told Geo News.

Footage aired on Geo News showed a helicopter hovering above the cable car and an army commando trying to reach the stranded passengers with a rope.

Speaking to Geo News, Mufti Gulamullah, a local official said: "Mid-air, two wires of the cable car snapped, leaving them (schoolchildren) stuck at a height of approximately 3,000 feet (approx. 914 meters)."

The locally-built cable car is privately run by residents for transportation across a river as there are no roads or bridges in the area.

*Riyaz ul Khaliq in Istanbul contributed to this story


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