Army Rescue Operation Underway for People Including School Children Stuck for Hours in Chairlift

Rescue efforts underway to recover trapped students and teachers from chairlift through a helicopter

A comprehensive rescue operation is in progress after a chairlift malfunction left eight individuals, including six schoolchildren, stranded mid-air in Battagram’s Allai Tehsil of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan.

The incident took place early in the morning, around 7am, when two cables of the chairlift snapped, suspending the cable car about 2,000-3,000 feet above the ground.

A group of ninth-grade students, including Abrar, Irfan, Gulfaraz, Osama, Razwan Ullah, Attaullah, Niaz Muhammad, and Sher Nawaz, are currently trapped.

District Police Officer Sonai Shamaroz stated that immediate action was taken upon receiving the news. Deputy Inspector General Tahir Ayub Khan directed rescue teams, including those from the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and the armed forces, to the site.

The primary objective was to employ helicopters to extricate the stranded passengers from the chairlift.

Rescue efforts have encountered challenges due to gusty winds and the complex operation involved. Helicopters from both the Pakistan Army and Pakistan Air Force are on the scene, with the Special Service Group (SSG) also participating.

A variety of rescue techniques are being considered, including a sling operation where a rescuer is hoisted with a sling and approaches the affected site. However, the rescue operation is considered risky due to factors such as air pressure and the weight of the passengers.

Authorities, including caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar and KP caretaker Chief Minister Mohammad Azam Khan, have directed all available resources toward the safe rescue of the stranded individuals.

The NDMA and Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) are coordinating efforts, and safety inspections of similar chairlifts have been ordered.

Stuck in Mid-Air for Hours

The stranded passengers, including students as young as 10 years old, have been stuck for several hours without food or water. Immediate efforts have been initiated to employ helicopters for their rescue. The chairlift, commonly used in the region due to the lack of roads, was privately run by locals for transportation.

Efforts are ongoing to safely extricate the individuals, with careful consideration of weather conditions and operational risks.

The incident underscores the importance of maintaining cable cars and chairlifts in such hilly terrains, where they are vital for transportation. The collaborative rescue operation involves multiple agencies, reflecting the urgency and concern for the well-being of the stranded passengers.

Incident Highlights Need for Safer Transportation

In the absence of proper roads, approximately 150 students face a hazardous daily journey to school via cable car. This situation has arisen due to the lack of road facilities in the area, leaving cable cars as the primary means of transportation.

Iqbal, a school teacher, highlighted this concerning issue, pointing out that no alternative arrangements have been made. He expressed his lament over the lack of safer options for the students’ commute.

Iqbal emphasized that this incident is unprecedented, shedding light on the challenges students in such areas face. He further revealed that the cable car has been in operation for about eight years and undergoes monthly inspections to ensure its functionality.

District Police Officer Sonia Shamroz echoed the importance of maintaining cable cars and chairlifts in these regions. She underlined that due to the hilly terrain, chairlifts are the usual mode of transport for many children, making proper maintenance vital.

This incident serves as a reminder of the urgent need for improved transport infrastructure to ensure the safety and well-being of students in such remote areas.

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