Schoolchildren who were left trapped in a broken-down cable car in Pakistan 1,200ft in the air have described the terror of the ordeal they faced after being left hanging precariously above the ground for 16 hours.
Attaullah Shah, 15, who was one of six children and two adults trapped in the cable car above a river canyon in the Battagram district of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, revealed: ‘I thought it was my last day and I will be no more. God has granted me a second life.’
Two other children, Rizwan Ullah and Gul Faraz, said that they would not forget the ordeal for years. Gul said he feared while waiting for rescue that the cable car would crash to the ground and ‘we would die soon’.
He appealed to the government to build a school in the area and link their village to nearby towns with a bridge and a road ‘so our elders and young people don’t face such things’.
And Rizwan said he doesn’t want to use the cable car again, but that would only be possible if a school is built nearby.
Drone footage shows the passengers holding on as the car hangs precariously at an angle high above a river canyon in the Battagram district of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province
Drone footage obtained by the BBC shows the passengers holding on as the carriage hangs precariously at an angle high above the river canyon.
All those trapped inside the cable car were later saved in a daring mission on Tuesday led by Pakistan’s Special Service Group (SSG), which saw one of the six children plucked out of the chairlift from a helicopter.
The rest of the group were rescued by zip wire experts who guided the trapped cable car passengers to safety in an operation watched by thousands of spectators – after it was deemed unsafe to approach by helicopter.
Osama Sharif, 15, who got stuck in the cable car while on his way to school to get his exam results, said: ‘We suddenly felt a jolt. We thought all of us were going to die.’
‘They were telling us don’t worry, help is coming,’ he said.
Residents used mosque loudspeakers to alert neighbourhood officials of the emergency, and hundreds of people gathered on both sides of the ravine – hours away from any sizeable town – to watch the drama unfold.
People watch as an army soldier slings down from a helicopter during a rescue mission to recover students stuck in a chairlift in Pashto village of mountainous Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province on Tuesday
The cable car snapped leaving eight people dangling 1,200ft above the river canyon in Battagram, around 120 miles north of Islamabad
The rescue finally began at dusk with a helicopter plucking a child from the chairlift but the chopper was forced back to base as bad weather closed in and night fell.
Then, commandos from the SSG and local experts used the cable keeping the gondola from plunging into the valley as a zipline to rescue the rest of those stranded.
The two adults were the last to be brought to safety.
Pakistan’s caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar called the rescuers ‘heroes of the nation’.
‘Great team work by the military, rescue departments, district administration as well as the local people,’ he wrote on X, formerly Twitter.
One of the passengers using a zip wire to get to safety. All of those inside the cable car, six children and two adults, were saved during a 16-hour rescue operation that included zip wire experts and a military helicopter
Pakistan’s caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar said on X: ‘Relieved to know that Alhamdolillah all the kids have been successfully and safely rescued’
This is the moment the final children who had been stranded in a broken down cable car were zip lined to safety
Pakistani army soldiers carry out rescue operation for stranded in a chairlift students in Battagram
Schoolchildren who were rescued from the broken cable car said on Wednesday they repeatedly feared they were about to die during the 16-hour ordeal, despite attempts by their parents to reassure them over mobile phones.
Several of the children, who had been on their way to school on Tuesday when one of the car’s cables snapped, also appealed for a school and bridge to be built in their village so they wouldn’t have to ride the cable car in the future.
One of the youngest was grabbed by a commando attached to a helicopter by rope, while others were lowered to the ground in a makeshift chairlift constructed from a wooden bed frame and ropes.
‘I had heard stories about miracles, but I saw a miraculous rescue happening with my own eyes,’ said Osama Sharif.
Some of those aboard had mobile phones and started making calls, with worried parents trying to reassure the children.
‘They were telling us don’t worry, help is coming,’ Osama said.
After several hours, the passengers saw helicopters flying in the air.
On Wednesday, police arrested Gul Zarin, the owner of the cable car, on charges of ignoring safety measures.
Local authorities in the northwestern mountainous regions said they would close all cable cars believed to be unsafe.
At one stage during the operation, a rope lowered from a helicopter swayed wildly as a child, secured by a harness, was pulled up.
The air currents churned up by the whirling blades risked weakening the only cable preventing the cable car from crashing to the bottom of the river canyon.
‘We cried, and tears were in our eyes, as we feared the cable car will go down,’ Osama said.
After sunset, with the helicopters no longer able to fly, rescuers shifted tactics.
They used a makeshift chairlift to approach the cable car using the one cable that was still intact, local police chief Nazir Ahmed said.
Shouts of ‘God is great’ erupted as the chairlift was lowered to the ground in the final stage of the operation just before midnight.
Ahmed said the children received oxygen as a precaution before being handed over to their parents, many of whom burst into tears of joy.
All six children and the two adults on board the broken cable car have now been rescued
Youngsters who had been stranded in the broken cable car are surrounded by villagers following their rescue
A youngster is helped by villagers after being rescued from a dangling cable car
Ata Ullah, another rescued student, said he would try to be brave the next time he has to ride one.
‘I feel fear in my mind about using the cable car, but I have no other option. I will go to my school again when the cable car is repaired,’ he said.
Locally made cable cars are a widely used form of transportation in the mountainous Battagram district, cutting down travel time to schools, workplaces and businesses.
However, they often are poorly maintained, and every year people die or are injured while using them.
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-12437839/Astonishing-footage-shows-Pakistani-children-forced-cling-inches-falling-1-200ft-deaths-cramped-cable-car.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 ‘I thought it was my last day’: Children trapped inside broken-down Pakistan cable car describe terrifying 16-hour ordeal – as astonishing video shows kids left dangling 1,200ft in the air over a ravine