A cable car lift set up illegally by villagers at a popular Pakistani mountain resort broke and plunged into a ravine killing at least 11 people and injuring three others, officials said on Thursday. The accident occurred some 30 kilometres north of Islamabad between Banwari and Charra Pani village in the tourist hill resort of Murree. “There was a strong wind which led to the cable car breaking and falling,” an eyewitness, Omair, was quoted as saying by Geo News.
According to rescuers, the ‘doli’ cable car lift was being used for transportation between Sharafani in Punjab and Banwari in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The lift was the only source of transportation between the two hilly areas as there are no roads connecting the two, they said. Local people had reportedly set up the cable car service on a self-help basis without approval from the concerned departments, rescue officials said.
The injured were taken to Holy Family Hospital in Rawalpindi, rescue officials said, adding that the 11 deceased had died on the spot. The bodies of the victims have been handed over to their families.
The chances of survival of the three injured are slim, as the car fell to the ground from a height of 400 feet, the officials said.
When asked if the cable car was being used for commercial purposes, Deputy Commissioner Rawalpindi Talat Mehmood Gondal said the incident took place in Abbottabad district which is part of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the provincial government would be able to answer this question.
“We received a call of the accident taking place and Rescue 1122 along with District Rawalpindi immediately mobilised and the rescue operation was completed at the earliest,” Gondal added.
A spokesperson for the Galiyat Development Authority said the main chairlift in Ayubia had not been affected and is being operated as per routine.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif expressed grief over the loss of precious lives in the chairlift incident at Charra Pani and directed concerned authorities for immediate medical aid to the injured, the report said.
Families of the victims blamed the ‘substandard cable car’ operators and the government for the tragedy and blocked the main road in protest.
Murree is one of Pakistan’s most known mountain tourist resorts, popular with both local and foreign tourists. Chairlift accidents are common in mountainous areas of the country, where the lifts are often used to cross rivers. Four people drowned when a chairlift broke in Diamer district of Gilgit-Baltistan last month.