Home Latest News Battagram Cable Car Rescue Mission Successfully Ends after Over 15 Hours

Battagram Cable Car Rescue Mission Successfully Ends after Over 15 Hours

All eight passengers safe following joint efforts of Army, district administration and local experts

by Staff Report

After efforts that spanned over 15 hours, a team of civilians, district administration and the military successfully rescued eight passengers—seven schoolchildren and a local man—stranded in a cable car after one of its cables snapped in the Alai Tehsil of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s Battagram district.

“Relieved to know that Alhamdolillah all the kids have been successfully and safely rescued,” announced caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar after the rescue operation was completed around 10:45 p.m. “Great team work by the military, rescue departments, district administration as well as the local people,” he wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

Early on Tuesday morning, a cable car used by local residents to travel between two mountain peaks was left dangling in mid-air over a ravine after one of its cables snapped, leaving the eight people inside it stranded over 600 feet up, though initially the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) had estimated they were stuck at a height of 1,000-2,000ft. Images and footage showed the car hanging on by a thread, with fears mounting of the safety of the passengers, most of whom were young schoolchildren using it to go to school.

According to locals, the cable snapped around 7:45 a.m., with knowledge of the situation becoming public roughly 30 minutes later. National media became aware of it around 10:30 a.m., triggering daylong coverage of the rescue efforts, which were led by the Pakistan Army but included the participation of the district administration, rescue teams and local experts.

Initially, rescue officials hoped to resolve the situation using a helicopter from the Army. The aircraft reached the site around 2 p.m. and initiated a “sling operation,” wherein a commando was lowered down from a rope as the helicopter hovered overhead. However, this attempt was thwarted by a second cable that was dangling roughly 30 feet over the cable car, as well as downdrafts from the helicopter, which caused the cable car to sway dangerously, raising safety concerns for the passengers onboard.

After a few unsuccessful attempts, the Army helicopter managed to rescue two of the children onboard. However, at that point, daylight was running out and locals reported gusty wind conditions, prompting the launch of ‘Plan B,’ which aimed to rescue the trapped passengers via a zip-line method using experts from the northern areas.

The ground operation, led by the SSG’s general officer commanding according to a statement issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), was then aimed at rescuing the six people remaining in the cable car. Amidst this, the passengers were provided food and water, initially via the helicopter, and subsequently via a smaller cable car that was deployed from the ground. Eventually, using a modified zip-line method, local experts, zip-liners and civil and military officials were able to successfully rescue the remaining six people, concluding the hours-long operation.

According to locals, the initial rescue attempts were stalled until a helicopter could reach the location due to fears that the height at which the cable car was stranded could risk the lives of the passengers.

Soon after the successful completion of the rescue mission of Abrar, Irfan, Usama, Rizwan Ullah, Ataullah, Niaz Muhammad, Sher Nawaz and Gul Faraz, political leaders praised the Army, locals and district administration involved in the risky operation.

Gul Faraz, the only adult on the cable car at the time it got stranded, spoke with Geo News while onboard the cable car. He told the broadcaster that two of the children were in and out of consciousness, and lamented the lack of food and water. He also urged the channel to use its platform to ensure help was provided to the passengers.

In a statement after the cable snapped, the interim prime minister said he had directed authorities to conduct safety inspections of all private chairlifts and ensure they were safe to operate and use. As a stopgap, local authorities have barred the use of all cable cars for a few days pending inspections to make sure cars in dilapidated conditions are to safety standards.

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