- The Prime Minister says the rescue operation was a success
- Seven students and one other person were on the plane for hours
- “It was a unique operation that required a lot of military skill.”
PESHAWAR/ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (Reuters) – Pakistani rescuers pulled seven children and a man to safety after their cable car became stranded in a remote valley on Tuesday, ending an ordeal that lasted more than 15 hours.
“It was a unique operation that required a lot of skill,” the military said in a statement.
The high-risk operation in northern Pakistan was completed in the dark of night after the cable car broke down early in the morning, leaving it hanging precariously at an angle all day.
“All children were rescued successfully and safely,” interim Prime Minister Anwar-ul-Haq Kakar said in a post on messaging platform X, formerly known as Twitter.
“Awesome teamwork by the military, rescue departments, district administration as well as local residents.”
A military helicopter rescue was called off at nightfall after two children were pulled to safety. Floodlights were installed and the ground rescue operation continued.
A security source said cable crossing experts were trying to rescue the children one by one by taking them to a small platform along the cable.
Before the helicopter rescue was called off, television footage showed a child being lifted from the cable car with a harness, swaying from side to side, before being lowered to the ground.
The rescue effort stunned the country, with Pakistanis crowding around televisions as the media showed footage of an emergency worker hanging from a helicopter cable near the small cabin, people on board crowded together.
“The Pakistani army has successfully completed a very difficult and complex operation,” the army said in a statement.
“All the stranded people have been evacuated and taken to a safe place… The Civil Administration and the local population have also actively stepped forward to participate in this operation.”
A video shared by a rescue agency official showed more than a dozen rescuers and locals lining up near the edge of the dark canyon, pulling a cable until a boy strapped to it safely reached the hillside shouting “Allahu Akbar”. “.
“It’s a slow and risky process,” said resident Abdul Nasir Khan. “One person needs to tie themselves with a rope, then take a small elevator and rescue them one by one.”
Officials said one of the cable lines carrying the vehicle snapped around 7 am (0200 GMT) as the students were heading to school in the mountainous area of Pattagram, about 200 km north of Islamabad.
The partner of Riaz Khatak, a rescue official at the site, told Reuters the cable car got stuck halfway through the valley, about 275 meters above the ground.
He added that the helicopter rescue mission was complicated by gusty winds in the area and the fact that the helicopter’s rotating blades threatened to further destabilize the elevator.
“Our situation is precarious, for God’s sake, do something,” Golfaraz, a 20-year-old on the cable car, told local TV channel Geo News by phone. He added that the ages of the children ranged between 10 and 15 years, and that one of them passed out because of the heat and fear.
(Reporting by Asif Shahzad and Gibran Bhimam in Islamabad and Mushtaq Ali in Peshawar – Reporting by Muhammad for the Arabic Bulletin – Reporting by Muhammad Al Yamani for the Arabic Bulletin) Writing by Gibran Peshmam, Shivam Patel and Nick McPhee; Editing by Sharon Singleton, Nick McPhee and Hugh Lawson
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