A rescue operation is underway for eight people, including school children, trapped in a cable car dangling hundreds of metres above a ravine in north-western Pakistan.
The incident occurred in the region of Battagram near Pakistan’s border region with China.
The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) said that the children were travelling to school when one of the chairlift’s cables snapped around 9 a.m. (0400 GMT).
Elite commandos from Pakistan’s army have begun the operation using army helicopters to rescue the trapped children.
The rescue operation is being televised live by local media.
It resembled an action thriller movie scene when a commando hanging from a sling reached the cable car and delivered water and medicines to keep them stable, in the first attempt.
A trapped passenger named Gulfraz spoke with Geo TV and said they did not have drinking water and urged the authorities for swift action.
“The cable car is hinged with just one rope making a delicate, complicated, and risky operation.
“Wind of the helicopter wings can break the remaining rope,” local police chief Tahir Ayub said.
He said that commandos would try to lift the children one by one.
“It is going to be a highly risky mission. A slight miscalculation can result in a further disaster,” rescue official Bilal Faizi said.
Former Army pilot Syed Jawad told Geo TV that the rescuers have a small window to complete the operation before it gets dark.
Prime Minister Anwar ul Haq Kakar ordered authorities to utilise all the resources to complete the rescue operation as soon as possible.
“I have also directed the authorities to conduct safety inspections of all such private chairlifts and ensure that they are safe to operate and use.”
He wrote on the online platform X, previously known as Twitter.
Villages in northern Pakistan often travel through chairlifts to cross rivers and cut the distance in hilly areas.
These chairlifts are operated privately and are often poorly maintained with no safety measures. (dpa/NAN)