Accident on the cable car in Antalya, Türkiye, passengers thrown onto a mountain

A cable car carrying passengers in a mountainous area of ​​southern Turkey broke down after colliding with part of the metal structure supporting it on Friday, sending its eight terrified occupants plummeting to the rocky slope below.

One passenger was killed, seven were injured and nearly 200 others were trapped in other cabins in midair, some overnight and then for hours into Saturday afternoon, as rescuers worked to free them from the paralyzed line.

Helicopters, cranes and hundreds of rescue workers were deployed to the area to evacuate a total of 174 people, Turkey's interior minister said. Those affected include children, local residents and foreign tourists who were stranded in cabins, some of them tens of meters above the ground in the Sarisu area of ​​Antalya province, officials said.

Thirteen people were taken to hospital for treatment, Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya announced on social media.

Cable cars normally carry passengers up to a point high on the steep, tree-covered mountain that offers sweeping views of the hills, the city of Antalya and the Mediterranean Sea. Friday may have been a particularly busy evening for tourism there; the weekend began with the celebration of Eid, the multi-day holiday that marks the end of Ramadan.

On Friday, around 6pm local time, a pole that was part of the system snapped and hit one of the cabins, destroying the cabin and causing its eight passengers to fall onto the rocky ground when the floor they were standing on suddenly collapsed. collapsed. This was reported by the news agency.

One passenger who fell from the damaged cable car, a 54-year-old man, died at the scene, while the other seven were injured, Demiroren said. At least three other people were injured during the rescue operation, Antalya Mayor Muhittin Bocek told reporters at the scene.

Images from the site showed the broken car, with no floor and shattered windows, hovering a few meters above the ground in the evening twilight. Other cabins, many with shaken occupants still inside, stretched front and back on the line's long cables, suspended like tiny orange fruit from a vine above the rocks and trees below.

Tall cranes rose near some cars, reaching out to reach them. In others, emergency personnel wearing climbing helmets climbed ropes to assist trapped occupants. Metal baskets were used to transport the injured via helicopter.

In one case, a passenger wearing high-heeled sandals and carrying a small child strapped to her chest was evacuated with safety straps and slowly lowered to the ground. A rescuer perched on the cable car as she was evacuated, while other passengers waited inside for their turn.

The rescuers managed to do it evacuate 137 people overnight and into Saturday morning, and officials said they finally wrapped up the operation Saturday afternoon, nearly a full day after the accident stopped cars on the line.

By midday, passengers in five cabins were still waiting to be evacuated in what had become a methodical and dangerous task.

“There is unstable airflow and there is wind,” Okay Memis, head of Turkey's emergency agency, said in a televised speech, adding that this made it difficult for helicopters to fly to operate near the site. “Rescue work is taking place on a very steep area.”

Mr Memis said officials at the scene were in constant contact with the stranded runners.

Prosecutors have launched an investigation into the incident, Turkey's justice minister said, and experts have been tasked with determining the underlying cause and possible responsibility.

At the time of the accident all 24 cabins of the cable car were in the air. Many of the small cars, each with a claimed capacity of eight people, carried both adults and children. The line opened in 2017, starts near a picnic area and offers direct access to the viewing platform, shops and a cafe at the top.

Mayor Bocek, whose municipality operates the cable car, said in a televised speech that weekly and monthly maintenance on the cable car had been completed.

The last annual maintenance was carried out between February 19 and March 4 this year, said Deniz Yavuzyilmaz, an official from Mr. Bocek's political party.

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