MURREE/RAWALPINDI: A makeshift elevated cable car installed by locals across a drain between Sharafani in Punjab and Banwari in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa plunged into a 400ft ravine at the Charra Pani hill station, killing 12 people on the spot and leaving two others critically injured on Thursday.
Rawalpindi Deputy Commissioner Talat Mehmood Gondal said they had received a call about the incident and informed Rescue-1122 at around 12:45pm. The Rescue-1122 staff arrived at the site in four ambulances and pulled the victims from the ravine and took them to the Holy Family Hospital in Rawalpindi.
According to the residents of the area, the cable car had a capacity for eight passengers but there were 14 passengers aboard the rickety structure on Thursday.
Among those killed were a woman and a child. Muhammad Adnan, 25, a resident of Malpur whose parents were among the villagers killed, and Muhammad Haseeb, 23, were being treated for critical injuries at the Holy Family Hospital.
Residents say the cable car was overloaded
Muhammad Usman, one of Adnan’s cousins, told Dawn that Adnan’s parents and their nephew Muhammad Haris were using the cable car to get to Banwari village where they were supposed to offer condolences over the death of a relative, and were later supposed to attend a wedding.
After the post-mortem examination, Adnan’s parents and Haris were buried in Malpur village near Bharakahu after sunset.
A spokesperson for the Galiyat Development Authority said the main chairlift in Ayubia had not been affected and was operational as per routine.
Following the tragic accident, the villagers, relatives and friends of the victims placed the bodies of the deceased on Murree Road and staged a protest. They demanded that the Punjab chief minister take action against those operating unsafe cable cars.
“There was a strong wind which had led to the cable car breaking and falling,” an eyewitness, Omair, told Dawn.
Another resident of the area said one of the deceased was a local cricket star scheduled to participate in a village-level cricket tournament.
Such accidents are common in mountainous areas where hand-cranked cable cars, called doli in local parlance, are often used by locals to cross rivers and streams.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif expressed sorrow over the loss of lives in the incident and directed the authorities concerned to provide the best possible medical treatment to the injured.
Hazara DIG Muhammad Saeed Wazir ordered a probe into the incident after visiting the site where the cable car had crashed. He appointed Abbottabad Headquarters SP Shamas Ur Rehman as the inquiry officer.
DIG Wazir told Dawn that the Loral police SHO had been directed to register an FIR against the chairlift owner, Saadullah, and its operators Israr and Qamar. He added that the three men had fled from the area following the incident.
Rashid Javed in Abbottabad also contributed to this report
Published in Dawn, June 30th, 2017