HomeNewsAstonishing footage shows how Pakistani children were forced to cling on while...

Astonishing footage shows how Pakistani children were forced to cling on while inches from falling 1,200ft to their deaths in cramped cable car for 16 hours before they were rescued


Astonishing footage shows how Pakistani children were forced to cling on while inches from falling 1,200ft to their deaths in a cramped cable car for 16 hours before they were rescued.

Drone footage obtained by the BBC shows the passengers holding on as the carriage hangs precariously at an angle high above the remote Allai valley in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. 

One of the passengers is then seen using a zip wire to reach safety.  

All of those inside the cable car, six children and two adults, were saved during a rescue operation yesterday that included zip wire experts and a military helicopter.

The owner of the cable car company was later arrested by police on several charges, including negligence and endangering valuable lives. 

Drone footage shows the passengers holding on as the car hangs precariously at an angle over a valley

Drone footage shows the passengers holding on as the car hangs precariously at an angle over a valley

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.

The daring 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 Pakistan’s Special Service Group (SSG) – known as the Maroon Berets – 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 12-hour rescue operation that included zip wire experts and a military helicopter

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 12-hour rescue operation that included zip wire experts and a military helicopter

The cable car snapped leaving eight people dangling 1,200ft above the river canyon in Battagram, around 120 miles north of Islamabad

The cable car snapped leaving eight people dangling 1,200ft above the river canyon in Battagram, around 120 miles north of Islamabad 

Schoolchildren who were rescued from the broken cable car said today 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 yesterday 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 15-year-old Osama Sharif, one of those rescued.

Osama was headed to school yesterday to receive the results of his final exam when one of the cables snapped.

‘We suddenly felt a jolt, and it all happened so suddenly that we thought all of us are going to die,’ he said in a telephone interview.

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,’ he 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.

Syed Hammad Haider, a senior Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provincial official, said the gondola was hanging 1,200 feet above the ground

Syed Hammad Haider, a senior Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provincial official, said the gondola was hanging 1,200 feet above the ground

This is the moment the final children who had been stranded in a broken down cable car were zip lined to safety

All six children and the two adults on board the broken cable car have now been rescued

Pakistani army soldiers carry out rescue operation for stranded in a chairlift students in Battagram

Pakistani army soldiers carry out rescue operation for stranded in a chairlift students in Battagram

Two other children who survived, Rizwan Ullah and Gul Faraz, told The Associated Press 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’. 

Rizwan, 11, said he doesn’t want to use the cable car again, but that would only be possible if a school is built nearby.

Youngsters who had been stranded in the broken cable car are surrounded by villagers following their rescue

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

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 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. 

Gliding across steep valleys, they cut down travel time to schools, workplaces and businesses. But they often are poorly maintained, and every year people die or are injured while using them.



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