8 rescued from dangling gondola in Pakistan

Authorities in Pakistan said eight people who were trapped Tuesday after a cable carrying a gondola high above a canyon snapped have been rescued hours after they first became stranded.

Rescuers save last stranded passengers

Update 2:35 p.m. EDT Aug. 22: Authorities said they have rescued all eight people who were stuck in a cable car left dangling over a ravine in northwest Pakistan on Tuesday, according to multiple reports.

Those rescued include six children and two adults, The Associated Press reported.

In a statement posted on social media, Pakistan’s caretaker Prime Minister Anwar Kakar praised authorities for their work to free those who were trapped.

“Relieved to know that Alhamdolillah all the kids have been successfully and safely rescued,” he wrote.

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Two more children rescued; helicopter operations suspended

Update 11:12 a.m. EDT Aug. 22: Two more children have now been rescued from the gondola, according to Faisal Karim Kundi, the central secretary of information of the Pakistan People’s Party. The rescuers used the cable keeping the gondola from plunging into the valley as a zipline to rescue the two children, AFP reported.

“Zipline experts and other civil and military experts and local cable operators are on the spot and helping us in the rescue operation,” said deputy commissioner Tanveer Ur Rehman.

However, according to the BBC, there are conflicting reports about rescues.

There are also reports that helicopter operations will be suspended because the sun has gone down. The helicopter rescue was hampered by high winds during the day.

Two children reportedly rescued

Update 9:56 a.m. EDT Aug. 22: Two of the children trapped on the gondola have been rescued, according to The Associated Press. A police officer, Muhammad Amjad, has confirmed the rescue of two children.

According to the police officer, doctors are present at the helipad and are carrying out a medical check-up. The children are “stable,” the officer said.

Originally, officials had said there were six children and two adults. Now they say there are seven children and one adult.

Food, water being supplied

Update 7:37 a.m. EDT Aug. 22: Water and other food items have been delivered to the people in the gondola, according to AFP. Headmaster Ali Asghar Khan told AFP by phone that the children were teenage boys and students at his government high school Battangi Pashto.

One student has heart issue

Update 6:59 a.m. EDT Aug. 22: According to an adult in the cable car, one of the students has a heart condition and has been unconscious for the past two hours. The heart patient is 16 years old, the BBC is reporting.

Man trying to descend to gondola from helicopter

Update 6:49 a.m. EDT Aug. 22: Pakistani news channel Geo News is reporting that a “commando” had initially descended to the cable car to give the people inside instructions, but was forced to retreat due to strong winds in the region, the BBC reported.

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The children, who use the gondola to go back and forth to school, have been stranded since 7 a.m. local time, 10 p.m. ET in the U.S. The gondola is dangling by a single cable about halfway over the ravine, Shariq Riaz Khattak, a rescue official at the site, told Reuters.

One of the people stuck in the cable car has been speaking to a television channel in Pakistan by phone, the BBC reported.

“For God’s sake help us,” the man, named Gulfraz, told Geo News. He confirmed eight people were on board. One of the students had fallen unconscious in the past three hours, he said. The children are between the ages of 10 and 15, according to CNN.

“All efforts are being made by the Pakistan army to rescue the stranded people in the lift,” Pakistan officials said in a statement, according to the BBC.

The children live in a mountainous area in Battagram, about 125 miles north of Islamabad, officials said.

Two army helicopters were sent into the area to try to rescue the children and adults after it was determined the cable could not be repaired.

“The cable car is stuck in a place where it is almost impossible to help without a helicopter,” Zulfiqar Khan, an official with Pakistan’s 1122 rescue service, told Agence France-Presse.

Check back for more on this developing story.

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