Pakistani army soldiers carry out rescue operation for stranded in a chairlift students in Battagram district, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Pakistan, 22 August 2023. EFE-EPA/SULTAN DOGAR

Pakistan arrests cable car owner after midair breakdown with 8 onboard

Islamabad, Aug 23 (EFE).- Pakistani police Wednesday arrested the owner of the cable car that malfunctioned midair with eight people on board.

The incident in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa sparked a dramatic rescue operation for six children and two adults, trapped for hours in the cable car dangling over a ravine.

The clamor for the closure of locally made chairlifts has grown, forcing the authorities to shut down several of them in neighboring areas.

“The police arrested the owner, Gul Zarin, and operator of the cable car today,” police officer Abdul Latif told EFE.

“Both have been arrested on the charges of not taking safety measures to operate the chairlift.”

He said police also sealed the cable car control room.

The officer said eight cable cars in the region were ordered to close.

On Tuesday, six schoolchildren and an adult were using the cable car to go to school across a deep ravine.

Two ropes snapped, leaving the chairlift dangling on only one wire.

The rescue mission concluded before midnight, spanning over 14 hours.

The operation involved five helicopters from the Pakistan Army and two from the Air Force.

The initial phase involved helicopters, with rescuers hanging a rope and sling to lift the first two passengers, one by one, into the aircraft.

However, strong wind gusts generated by the helicopter’s propellers hindered the operation, causing the cable car to sway.

As darkness fell, helicopter operation was temporarily suspended.

After nightfall, zip line experts successfully recovered the remaining passengers.

These cable cars are allegedly manufactured and installed by locals without adhering to safety regulations or seeking government approval.

Locals operate them to transport passengers between villages, charging for their services.

The makeshift cable cars are favored to shorten travel distances.

The accident incident is not the first in Pakistan.

In 2017, a chairlift plunged hundreds of feet due to a broken rope, killing 12 people. EFE