News center
Laden with advanced manufacturing equipment.

Pakistan cable car

May 27, 2023

The desperate mission to rescue eight people trapped in a cable car dangling hundreds of feet above a ravine in northwest Pakistan has ended in success, senior politicians have announced.

Six children were travelling to school with two adults on the cable car in a mountainous area of the northern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province when one of its ropes snapped, local officials say.

One child stuck on the gondola suffering from a heart condition had fainted, a fellow passenger told news outlets by phone several hours ago, as they initially toiled without food and water.

While an “extremely risky” helicopter operation appears to be responsible for the rescue of at least one child, nightfall saw the air operation called off in favour of efforts using a trolley to pull the children one-by-one from the cable car.

But Pakistan’s caretaker interior minister announced – some 15 hours after the ordeal began – that the rescue mission had concluded successfully, thanking locals and officials involved for their “selflessness and determination”.

Full report: Eight people saved in 16-hour rescue operation

Ground rescue operation replaced helicopters as night fell

‘For God’s sake, help us,’ pleaded man trapped onboard

One child in cable car fainted, officials said

Cable car carrying six children left dangling 900ft in air over Pakistan ravine

05:20 , Maroosha Muzaffar

The cable car which got stuck on Tuesday was used by scores of children every day to cross a valley and reach school.A local teacher from Battagram, identified by local media by just his first name Iqbal, said at least 150 students take the cable car to and from school daily.

The chairlift was left dangling from 7am on Tuesday until last night, suspended 900ft above a ravine, after one of its cables snapped.

The teacher explained that due to the lack of road facilities, students have no choice but to take the cable car if they want to reach school.

“There are no other arrangements,” he said.

After Tuesday’s 15-hour ordeal, Pakistan’s government has ordered an investigation into all cable cars nationwide. In remote areas, these modes of transportation are often constructed illegally by locals in the absence of other infrastructure.

A senior official from the region, Sonia Shamroz, highlighted the need to maintain cable cars and chairlifts in the area because of their frequent use and said that it was extremely important since children in these regions use them as their only mode of transport.

05:10 , Maroosha Muzaffar

While cable cars present a practical solution for the lack of conventional infrastructure in certain regions of Pakistan, safety concerns remain.

In 2017, an illicit cable car in Murree, Punjab, crashed, claiming the lives of 11 passengers.

Just last December, a cable car mishap occurred in Abbottabad, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where a rope snapped and 12 children were stranded and had to be rescued.

05:00 , Maroosha Muzaffar

Due to the absence of conventional infrastructure, improvised cable cars are utilised in distant regions of Pakistan. Despite the inherent risks, these cable cars serve as essential transportation solutions for communities with limited alternatives.

According to local media, these makeshift cable cars are commonly employed in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), Gilgit Baltistan, and eastern Mansehra. These regions encounter geographical obstacles and have limited infrastructure, including schools and roads.

Geo TV reported that the necessity of connecting communities in these isolated areas has driven locals to create these cable cars using leftover materials, often without formal permits.

These cable cars are often built by the local communities, primarily from discarded materials like those from pick-up trucks. These cabins are then attached to cables, sometimes made of scrap iron, using ropes.

04:45 , Maroosha Muzaffar

Pakistan’s Inter-Services Public Relations said in a statement that the rescue operation was “extremely complicated and difficult”.

“It was an extremely difficult operation, and Pakistan Army and Pakistan Air Force (PAF) helicopter promptly reached the site and began the operation.

“The Pakistan Army Aviation provided complete technical assistance to the sling team, which made the successful completion of the operation possible,” the statement added.

The cable crossing experts, local residents and the civil administration also assisted in the operation, the statement said.It said the operation was a “unique” one in Pakistan’s history.

04:30 , Maroosha Muzaffar

“People had been constantly praying because there was a fear that the rope might break. People kept praying until the last person was rescued,” emergency official Waqar Ahmad was quoted as saying by AFP news agency.

“Once everyone had been rescued, the families started crying with joy and hugging each other.”

Eight individuals, seven of them students, were successfully rescued following hours of being stranded at an elevation of several hundred feet above a secluded valley in Pakistan on Tuesday.

04:17 , Maroosha Muzaffar

Among the passengers trapped in the suspended cable car in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Battagram district, three of the children who were part of the group found out they had successfully cleared their Class 9 examinations after their rescue, local media said.

With the results of the exams – for students aged roughly 15 – announced on Tuesday, three of the students received the news that they had graduated to Class 10.

Local media reports identified them by their first names — Attaullah, Niaz Mohammad and Usama. The three are students at Government High School Batangi Pashto Alai, Geo TV reported.

04:01 , Andy Gregory

As the children were handed over to their families, most burst into tears, said Nazir Ahmed, a senior police officer.

“Everyone was praying for this moment,” he said. He said villagers hugged the commandos and other rescuers.

According to Pakistani TV stations, some of those trapped were in contact with their families by cellphone. Authorities said the two adults were consoling the children, who were between the ages of 11 and 15.

03:52 , Maroosha Muzaffar

Eight individuals, seven of them students, were successfully rescued following hours of being stranded at an elevation of several hundred feet above a secluded valley in Pakistan.

Interim prime minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar wrote on X: “Relieved to know that all the kids have been successfully and safely rescued. Great teamwork by the military, rescue departments, district administration as well as the local people.”

Following the ordeal, Pakistan’s president called for a “comprehensive survey” of cable cars. “I would also urge that administration must conduct a comprehensive survey of all such local chairlifts to ensure safety of our people in future,” Arif Alvi said in a post on X.

03:02 , Andy Gregory

01:03 , Andy Gregory

The cable car is used by local villagers to cross the river and shorten the distance to nearby schools, government offices and other businesses.

It is believed that dozens take the chair lift daily, thanks to a lack of transport options in the area.

The BBC reports that there is no road infrastructure or basic facilities in the mountainous area where the incident unfolded, on a cable car – built by a local resident with permission from local authorities, and known as Dolly – which had reduced a two-hour walk to a four-minute journey across the ravine.

Wednesday 23 August 2023 00:01 , Andy Gregory

The former prime minister of Pakistan, Shehbaz Sharif, has praised locals for their “unity and yearning for humanity” after their help in rescuing those trapped in the cable car.

“It was a difficult, patient and nerve-racking rescue operation with many difficulties but the professionalism and passion with which the entire effort was carried out is a proud and enviable example,” he wrote on Twitter/X.

“The way the local population helped the administration is a great example of fraternity, brotherhood, unity and yearning for humanity for which I pay tribute to the local people,” Mr Sharif added.

And he joined others in warning that the incident is “a lesson that immediate attention should be paid to the development of infrastructure and education of children in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, especially in such areas. The chairlifts in the concerned areas should be inspected and repaired urgently.”

Tuesday 22 August 2023 23:13 , Andy Gregory

Pakistan’s president, Arif Alvi, has lent his name to calls for authorities to “conduct a comprehensive survey of all such local chairlifts to ensure the safety of our people in future”.

Tuesday 22 August 2023 22:22 , Andy Gregory

The cable car is situated in Battagram, a mountainous part of Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

Tuesday 22 August 2023 21:27 , Andy Gregory

The anxieties of those onboard the cable car, rescuers, and those watching on from the side of the valley and at television screens across the country were likely compounded by the fact that it was not the first such incident to have occurred in Pakistan.

Ten people were killed when a cable car lift installed by local villagers in the popular mountain resort of Murree broke and fell into a ravine hundreds of feet deep in 2017.

Pakistan’s caretaker prime minister, Anwaar ul Haq Kakar, said on Tuesday as the rescue was ongoing that he had “directed the authorities to conduct safety inspections of all such private chairlifts and ensure that they are safe to operate and use”.

Tuesday 22 August 2023 20:48 , Andy Gregory

A dramatic rescue effort has seen eight people pulled to safety after they all became trapped inside a cable car left dangling at least 900 feet (274m) above a ravine in Pakistan.

Here is our full report on the rescue:

Four rescued as army races to save children trapped in cable car dangling over ravine

Tuesday 22 August 2023 20:20 , Andy Gregory

“An extremely difficult and complicated operation has been successfully completed by the Pakistan military,” the military said in a statement.

“All stranded persons were safely evacuated and moved to a safe place ... Civil administration and locals also actively came forward to participate in this operation.”

A video shared by a rescue agency official showed more than a dozen rescuers and locals lined up near the edge of the dark ravine, pulling on a cable until a boy attached to it by a harness reached the hillside safely to cries of “God is great”.

“It is a slow and risky operation. One person needs to tie himself with a rope and he will go in a small chairlift and rescue them one by one,” said Abdul Nasir Khan, a resident.

Tuesday 22 August 2023 19:35 , Andy Gregory

Here is a still from some of the footage circulating on social media, shared by Spanish news agency EFE’s Pakistan correspondent, which appears to show people being pulled to safety by local residents:

Tuesday 22 August 2023 19:11 , Andy Gregory

All eight of those left trapped in the cable car have now been rescued, senior officials have said – more than 15 hours after the ordeal began.

Not long after Pakistan’s military announced that five children had been rescued, interim interior minister Senator Sarfraz Bugti wrote on Twitter/X: “Thankful to Allah that the rescue process at Battagram has successfully concluded.

“All appreciation for our valiant armed forces personnel, administration & locals for their selflessness and determination in carrying out this complex operation.”

Tuesday 22 August 2023 18:56 , Andy Gregory

Rescue teams in Pakistan have pulled several children to safety after they became trapped inside a cable car dangling for more than 12 hours at least 900ft (274m) above a ravine, but a number of people still reman stuck.

A helicopter operation was called off as darkness fell, but ground operations were set to continue to rescue the at least six children present in the car. Officials gave different reports on whether there were seven schoolchildren trapped along with a teacher, or six children and two adults.

Our international editor Chris Stevenson has the full report here:

Five rescued in races to save children trapped in cable car dangling over ravine

Tuesday 22 August 2023 18:41 , Andy Gregory

Footage shared to social media appears to show one of the recently rescued children being pulled by hand along the wire by locals in Battagram, some of whom shouted “God is great” as they were brought to safety.

Tuesday 22 August 2023 18:12 , Andy Gregory

Pakistan’s caretaker prime minister has said he is “closely monitoring and tracking the rescue efforts”.

“I am happy that progress is being made, and thanks to the efforts of our army personnel, Air Force, rescue organisations, district administration and others, students stuck in the chairlift have started returning to the ground safely,” Anwaar ul Haq Kakar wrote on Twitter/X.

“I’ll keep monitoring closely till the completion of the rescue operation, insha Allah.”

Tuesday 22 August 2023 18:04 , Andy Gregory

A total of five children have now been rescued from the cable car, Pakistan’s military has said.

“Three more children have been rescued in Pakistan army’s rescue operation,” the military said, after the helicopters leading prior efforts were withdrawn as night fell.

“Five children have been rescued so far. Operation is continuing.”

Tuesday 22 August 2023 17:23 , Andy Gregory

The military is sending cable crossing experts to the area who will try to rescue the children one by one by transferring them one by one on a small trolley along the cable, a security source has told Reuters.

Local residents said community members from surrounding areas who had experience rescuing people this way had also arrived.

“It is a slow and risky operation. One person needs to tie himself with a rope and he will go in a small chairlift and rescue them one by one,” Abdul Nasir Khan, a nearby resident, told the news agency.

Tuesday 22 August 2023 16:55 , Andy Gregory

Now that night has fallen, it will be easier to use a rescue trolley to bring those remaining on the cable car back to solid ground, as opposed to attempting to use helicopters, a retired Pakistan army general has said.

Such an effort, using a smaller cable car to reach those who are trapped, will need to be done “with great care”, Talaat Masood told the BBC.

“But it is a lesser challenge than it would have been if it was a helicopter transfer at night,” he added.

Tuesday 22 August 2023 16:25 , Andy Gregory

The Army has called off the helicopter rescue operation as night fell, officials have been reported as saying.

Flood lights were installed on the ground and the rescue operation was continuing, a security source told Reuters news agency.

The source added that cable crossing experts had been sent to the area and a small dolly carrier was being attached to the cable to rescue the children one by one, more than 12 hours after their cable car snagged.

Tuesday 22 August 2023 15:30 , Martha Mchardy

An expert has warned the rescue is incredibly delicate because the wind created by the helicopters’ blades could further weaken cables holding the car aloft.

Tipu Sultan, a retired army brigadier and defence expert, warned that the helicopters themselves could make the situation worse but that the army commandos would be well aware of that risk.

Tuesday 22 August 2023 15:23 , Martha Mchardy

Four children have been rescued from the cable car, according to reports.

Pakistan’s military rescued four children, one by one, district official Shah Fahad said.

The rescue operation is still ongoing for the remaining three children and one teacher still trapped.

Tuesday 22 August 2023 15:10 , Andy Gregory

Tuesday 22 August 2023 15:00 , Andy Gregory

It is a helicopter operation by military commandos which has freed the first two children from the cable car, Bilal Faizi, spokesperson for the emergency services, is quoted as saying by the Associated Press.

Sundown is expected imminently, but the rescue operation was expected to continue under cover of darkness.

Tuesday 22 August 2023 14:55 , Andy Gregory

Footage appears to show the dramatic moment one of six children stuck in a cable car in Pakistan was winched to safety today.

You can see the clip here:

Moment Pakistan cable car rescuers winch child to safety captured in dramatic video

Tuesday 22 August 2023 14:53 , Andy Gregory

Rescuers have rescued two children from the stranded cable car, a rescue agency spokesperson and a district official said.

Five students and one teacher are still onboard the cable car waiting to be rescued.

Tuesday 22 August 2023 14:12 , Andy Gregory

There has been some confusion over how many adults and children are trapped in the cable car.

While most outlets are reporting that there are six children and two adults, Muzaffar Khan, a district administration official in Battagram, said there were seven students and one teacher aboard.

Reuters cited remarks by a 20-year-old who is on the gondola and spoke by mobile phone to local television channel Geo News, who appears to be a student – which may account for the confusion over the numbers of adults, children, teachers and students.

The 20-year-old, named Gulfaraz, said there were six students onboard, aged between 10 to 16 years old, and that a 16-year-old had fainted due to anxiety, Geo News reported.

Tuesday 22 August 2023 13:57 , Andy Gregory

Here are some images taken from the scene, where helicopters have been involved in a bid to rescue those trapped in the cable car.

Experts have warned that their efforts are complicated by fears that the strong gusts generated by the helicopters could destabilise the cable car.

Army commandos could be seen on local TV trying to lower themselves on ropes from the helicopters toward the cable car, with water and food reported to have been distributed to the stranded individuals.

Tuesday 22 August 2023 13:49 , Andy Gregory

A third helicopter will be launched shortly, a rescue official at the site has told Reuters.

While two such aircraft are already at the scene, so far two attempts at a rescue have been aborted – with a cable 30 feet above the cable car said to be impeding the operation.

Commandos hanging from a helicopter had managed to get close to the car, but were unable to rescue those on board, with sundown expected at about 7pm local time (3pm BST).

Bilal Fiazi, a spokesperson for the 1122 rescue service, the country’s largest, said the commandos had managed to get food and medicine to them.

“The terrain below is difficult given the peaks and the river flowing underneath in the valley,” he added.

Tuesday 22 August 2023 13:44 , Andy Gregory

Relatives of those trapped in the chairlift were reported to be praying while anxiously watching the rescue operation unfold.

The rescue has also transfixed people across the Pakistan, who crowded around televisions in offices, shops, restaurants and hospitals, according to the Associated Press.

Tuesday 22 August 2023 13:28 , Andy Gregory

Pakistan’s caretaker prime minister, Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar, said he has ordered authorities “to urgently ensure safe rescue and evacuation of the 8 people.”

“I have also directed the authorities to conduct safety inspections of all such private chairlifts and ensure that they are safe to operate and use,” he wrote on Twitter/X.

Tuesday 22 August 2023 13:15 , Shweta Sharma

Jawad Hussain, the assistant commissioner of Allai, said so far four choppers have made efforts to carry out a rescue operation using helicopters provided by the Pakistani Army.

A commando made two attempts to reach the cable car using ropes.

A rescue team delivered water and food to the stranded individuals using helicopters.

Individuals from the Shangla and Bisham regions are heading towards Allai to provide assistance.

Tuesday 22 August 2023 12:15 , Shweta Sharma

Tuesday 22 August 2023 12:13 , Shweta Sharma

This is not the first time Pakistan is witnessing an incident on a high-altitude ropeway. In 2017, at least 10 people died after a cable car fell into a ravine at a mountain resort in the Murree district of Punjab.

That cable car fell 400ft into the gorge as it was transporting people between two hilly areas.Cable cars are the only mode of transportation in some parts of Pakistan, forcing people to take risky commutes on a daily basis.

Villagers frequently use cable cars to get to school, government offices or businesses in mountainous regions, but they are often poorly maintained and every year people die or are injured while traveling in them.

Tuesday 22 August 2023 11:56 , Shweta Sharma

Gulfaraz, a man stuck in the cable car dangling in mid-air, spoke on the phone to a Pakistani TV channel and issued an urgent plea for help from the authorities.

The man, who was identified by only his first name, told Geo TV that those stranded in the cable car do not have drinking water or food. They have now been stuck for almost nine hours.

“For God’s sake help us,” he said. He told the Pakistani news outlet that a teenager who suffers from a heart condition has been unconscious for the last three hours.

He said the teenager had been travelling to the hospital through the chairlift when it got stuck.

The students on board were aged between 10 and 15 years old, he said.

“People in our area are standing here and crying,” he said and urged authorities to send immediate help.

Tuesday 22 August 2023 11:42 , Shweta Sharma

A rescue official has said the operation is getting complicated due to gusty winds in the northern mountainous regions of Pakistan.

Military helicopters have reached the location where the cable car is stuck but are approaching the stranded passengers with caution.

Rescue official Shariq Riaz Khattak said the operation is made more complex by the fact that the helicopters’ rotor blades can produce their own strong drafts, potentially destabilising the lift even more.

The rescue operation has reached a critical point as the sunset in Battagram is expected at 6.48pm local time – in around three hours.

Assistant commissioner Jawad Hussain told Dawn: “If the helicopters fail to rescue the passengers, Rescue 1122 teams will make efforts from the ground via a snorkel.

“We have also called locals from Shangla’s Besham who have experience in conducting similar rescue operations near the Diamer Bhasha dam.”

He said rescue teams are simultaneously trying to spread nets under the cable car to prepare for the possibility of it plummeting to the ground.

Tuesday 22 August 2023 11:31 , Shweta Sharma

A rescue official has said that one of the children in the cable car fainted due to panic and exhaustion.

Shariq Riaz Khattak told Reuters: “One child has fainted due to heat and fear.”

Six children along with two adults have been stranded in the cable car since 7am local time - some seven and a half hours.

The children were using the gondola to get to school in a mountainous area in Battagram, about 200 km (125 miles) north of Islamabad, officials said.

Tuesday 22 August 2023 11:22 , Shweta Sharma

A rescue is underway for eight people – including six schoolchildren – trapped in a cable car dangling 900ft (274 metres) over a ravine in Pakistan.

Six children and two teachers are trapped in the chair lift after a cable snapped, with a tricky helicopter rescue mission being hampered by high winds, rescue officials said,

The children, who have been stranded since 7am local time were using the chair lift to get to school in a mountainous area in Battagram, about 125 miles (200km) north of Islamabad, officials said.

Six children trapped in cable car dangling 900ft over Pakistan ravine

Tuesday 22 August 2023 11:21 , Shweta Sharma

Two Pakistani army helicopters have been dispatched since eight people, including six children, were stranded on the cable car.

The children and two adults are hanging mid-air in a cable car, nine hours since a cable of the lift service snapped.

One security official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said special services troops, trained in sling operations, are involved in this “extremely dangerous and risky operation”.

“All efforts are being made by Pakistan army to rescue the stranded people in the lift.”

Tuesday 22 August 2023 11:12 , Shweta Sharma

Welcome to The Independent’s live blog following the rescue of eight people from a stranded cable car in Pakistan.

Chris Stevenson