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HomeWorld NewsCable Car Drops Passengers Onto Mountain in Turkey, Killing One

Cable Car Drops Passengers Onto Mountain in Turkey, Killing One

A cable car ferrying passengers in a mountainous area of southern Turkey broke apart after colliding with part of the metal structure supporting it on Friday, sending its eight terrified occupants plummeting to the rocky hillside below.

One passenger was killed, seven were injured and nearly 200 more were trapped in other cabins in midair, some overnight and then for hours more into Saturday afternoon, as rescuers worked to free them from the crippled line.

Helicopters, cranes and hundreds of rescuers were deployed to the area to evacuate a total of 174 people, Turkey’s interior minister said. Those affected included children, local residents and foreign tourists who were stranded in cabins, some of them dozens of meters above the ground in the Sarisu area of Antalya Province, officials said.

Thirteen people were taken to the hospital for treatment, the interior minister, Ali Yerlikaya, announced on social media.

The cable cars normally transport passengers to a point high up the steep, tree-covered mountain that offers sweeping views of the hills, the city of Antalya and the Mediterranean Sea. Friday may have been a particularly busy evening for tourism there; the weekend began as Muslims celebrated Eid, the multiday holiday that marks the end of Ramadan.

Around 6 p.m. local time on Friday, a pole that was part of the system broke off and struck one of the cabins, smashing the cabin and dropping its eight passengers to the rocky ground when the floor they were standing on suddenly fell away, the Demiroren news agency reported.

One passenger who fell from the damaged cable car, a 54-year-old man, died at the scene, and the other seven were injured, Demiroren said. At least three more people were wounded during the rescue operation, Mayor Muhittin Bocek of Antalya told reporters at the scene.

Images from the site showed the broken car, without its floor and with its windows shattered, hanging yards above the ground in the evening twilight. Other cabins — many with shaken occupants still inside — stretched ahead and behind it on the line’s long cables, suspended like tiny orange fruits from a vine above the rocks and trees below.

Tall cranes rose near some of the cars, stretching to reach them. On others, emergency personnel wearing climbing helmets scampered up ropes to assist the trapped occupants. Metal baskets were used to ferry away the injured via helicopter.

In one instance, a female passenger wearing high-heel sandals and carrying a small child secured on her chest was evacuated with safety straps and slowly lowered to the ground. One rescuer perched on the cable car as she was evacuated, while the other passengers waited inside for their turns.

Rescuers managed to evacuate 137 people overnight and into Saturday morning, and officials said they finally concluded the operation on Saturday afternoon — nearly a full day after the accident stopped the cars on the line in place.

At midday, passengers in five cabins were still waiting to be evacuated in what had become a methodical and dangerous task.

“There is a volatile flow of air and there is wind,” said Okay Memis, the head of Turkey’s emergency agency in televised remarks, adding that this made it hard for helicopters to fly to operate near the site. “Rescue work is taking place on a very steep area.”

Mr. Memis said officials on the ground were in constant contact with the stranded riders.

Prosecutors have initiated an investigation into the accident, Turkey’s justice minister said, and experts have been assigned to determine the underlying cause and any liability.

All 24 cabins of the cable-car line were in the air when the accident happened. Many of the small cars, which each have a listed capacity of eight, were carrying both adults and children. The line opened in 2017, starting near a picnic area, and offers direct access to the viewing platform, stores and a cafe at the top.

Mayor Bocek, whose municipality runs the cable line, said in televised remarks that the weekly and monthly maintenance of the cable line had been completed.

The latest yearly maintenance was done between Feb. 19 and March 4 this year, said Deniz Yavuzyilmaz, an official from Mr. Bocek’s political party.

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