Passengers rescued from Turkiye cable car accident after 23 hours

Published April 14, 2024
Members of Turkiye’s disaster management authority take part in a rescue operation after a cable car cabin collided with a broken pole.—Reuters
Members of Turkiye’s disaster management authority take part in a rescue operation after a cable car cabin collided with a broken pole.—Reuters

ISTANBUL: Rescue workers finished evacuating dozens of passengers trapped for 23 hours mid-air on Saturday after a cable car accident in southern Turkiye that killed one person.

Ten people were injured in the accident, which happened late on Friday afternoon in the resort city of Antalya when a supporting pylon collapsed.

One cable car in the Sarisu-Tunektepe system plummeted into a rocky area, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said.

A total of 174 passengers, including children, were “successfully” rescued from at least 16 cable cars after a “very dangerous operation”, said Okay Memis, the head of Turkiye’s disaster and emergency management agency Afad.

“This accident occurred following the breakage of a mechanism at the top of a cable car pylon,” Memis added.

The remaining 43 passengers who were suspended in the air were finally freed on Saturday afternoon.

Ayse Hatice Polat, a woman in her fifties who had been trapped in a cabin for more than twenty-one hours, kissed the ground as she descended from the helicopter, several local media reported.

Ten helicopters and more than 600 rescuers, including specialist mountaineers, had been at the scene, authorities said.

Thirteen people, including managers of the cable car company, faced detention orders as part of an investigation into the causes of the accident, Turkish Justice Minister Yilmaz Tunc said.

“The incident occurred because of inadequate and corroded fastenings at the connection points of the cable car’s support towers,” Tunc said on X, formerly Twitter, referring to a preliminary report that also pointed to the poor condition of the pulley systems.

Twenty-four cabins were stranded in the air at 5:23pm on Friday. Sixteen hours later, more than 60 people were still stranded in the remaining nine cabins in the air, the ministry said.

None of the people waiting to be rescued had critical injuries or were in poor health, Disaster and Emergency Management Authority chairman Okay Memis told reporters at the scene.

In a statement on social media platform X, the interior ministry said seven helicopters and more than 500 rescue workers were carrying out rescue efforts.

A video released by the interior ministry showed rescue personnel tied to safety ropes climbing into cabins.

According to the information on its website, the cable car has 36 cabins with a capacity of six people each, and it takes an average of nine minutes to go uphill to the Tunektepe facility with panoramic views of the city of Antalya.

Published in Dawn, April 14th, 2024

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