UPDATE 4 - All 8 passengers rescued from stranded cable car dangling above ravine in Pakistan

UPDATE 4 - All 8 passengers rescued from stranded cable car dangling above ravine in Pakistan

Army commandos, local rescuers take part in 15-hour rescue operation in northwestern Batgram district


By Aamir Latif

KARACHI, Pakistan (AA) - The Pakistan Army rescued all eight mostly school children from a cable car dangling above a ravine in northwest Pakistan, the military said late Tuesday.

The army said the "sling team" of its Special Services Group rescued the remaining three school children from the cable car hanging 600 feet height in northwestern Batgram district in a 15-hour "complicated" and "difficult" operation.

The military lauded the assistance of the Pakistan Air Force and local rescuers in carrying out the lengthy operation.

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

The ground operation involved 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.

Five children, including one who was later transported to a hospital, were rescued in a helicopter sling operation using a ladder and ropes 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.

Seven army and air forces helicopters took part in the rescue operation.

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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