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Tourists rescued after overnight Mont Blanc cable car ordeal | Daily Mail Online mont blanc mountain cable car

Tourists rescued after overnight Mont Blanc cable car ordeal By Associated Press

Published: 13:55 EDT, 9 September 2016 | Updated: 13:55 EDT, 9 September 2016

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CHAMONIX, France (AP) — Dozens of tourists, including three child mont-blanc-mountain-cable-car-rid-0.html. pen meaning in teluguren, were rescued Friday after being trapped overnight in cable cars dangling above the slopes of Mont Blanc in the Alps.

Their return to land ended an extraordinarily complex and vertiginous rescue effort over two days amid the spectacular but dangerous landscape of Western Europe's tallest mountains.

The last passengers were brought down Friday morning, after emergency workers managed to untangle cables that had jammed Thursday, according to the mayor of the French town of Chamonix.

An EC-135 helicopter operated by the French Societe' Civile hovers, Friday, Sept. 9, 2016, near three cars of the Panoramic Mont Blanc cable car that stalled around 4 p.m. (1400 GMT) on Thursday, after its cables reportedly tangled. The cable car carrying tourists stopped working at high altitude over the Mont Blanc massif in the Alps on Thursday, prompting a major rescue operation and leaving 45 people trapped in midair overnight, France's interior minister said. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

With the cables now straightened, the cable cars were able to resume their journey Friday, at very slow speeds and under close surveillance, and delivered the passengers to the nearest ground stations, Mayor Eric Fournier said. The passengers were then flown by helicopter to Chamonix and the Italian town of Courmayeur.

The ordeal began Thursday afternoon, when cables on the Panoramic Mont Blanc cable car service got twisted, trapping 110 people in a string of cars at 3,800 meters altitude.

French and Italian helicopters flew in rescuers who dropped down on cables onto the tops of the cars, and lifted out passengers one by one.

"The extent of this rescue operation is simply unbelievable," said Col. Frederic Labrunye, commander of the provincial gendarmerie group of Haute-Savoie. "By the volume of people to rescue - we rarely rescue 110 people at the same time in high mountain - and by the environment in which it happens ... in the heart of one of the largest glaciers in Europe, over a distance of five kilometers of cable with 36 cabins."

Helicopters had to carefully fly over the cables, which is risky itself, then lower a rescuer onto an area "not larger than a table," strap on passengers one by one and extract them, he said, describing it as "air surgery."

Then fog descended and darkness started to fall, and authorities called off the helicopter rescue.

So they switched to "Plan B," Fournier said.

Mountain guides identified the cable cars closest to the ground, and used climbing ropes to carry passengers to the surface of the glacier below, one by one.

From there, rescuers brought the passengers by foot to the nearest mountain station.

Fournier said 65 people were rescued overall Thursday, and another 12 were brought down overnight using "Plan B."

The remaining 33 people were in cable cars too high off the ground, so they stayed overnight. They included a 7-year-old and 9-year-old from Korea and a 10-year-old Italian child.

"They didn't get a lot of sleep, it was a strange experience, but they were warm under blankets and with their families," Fournier said.

Five rescuers stayed overnight in the cable cars and provided blankets, food and water to help weather the chilly mountain night-time conditions.

Kathy Cook, a tourist from Michigan who was carried down to the ground by a rescuer after almost 10 hours aloft, called it "really quite an experience."

"The helicopter rescue failed because the fog moved in, so we had to just wait and then they decided they could belay us safely to the ground, and we walked up the glacier to the hut," she said upon arrival in Courmayeur.

The cable car, which offers spectacular up-close views of Western Europe's tallest mountains and deep valleys below, connects the Aiguille de Midi peak in France, at 3,842 meters (12,605 feet), to Pointe Helbronner in Italy, at 3,462 meters (11,358 feet).

___

Charlton reported from Paris. Stefano De Nicolo in Courmayeur, Italy, contributed.

An EC-135 helicopter operated by the French Societe' Civile hovers, Friday, Sept. 9, 2016, near three cars of the Panoramic Mont Blanc cable car that stalled around 4 p.m. (1400 GMT) on Thursday, after its cables reportedly tangled. The cable car carrying 110 tourists stopped working at high altitude over the Mont Blanc massif in the Alps on Thursday, prompting a major rescue operation and leaving 45 people trapped in midair overnight, France's interior minister said. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

Aerial view, Friday, Sept. 9, 2016, of three cars of the Panoramic Mont Blanc cable car where tourists were trapped after it stalled around 4 p.m. (1400 GMT) on Thursday, when its cables reportedly tangled. The cable car carrying tourists stopped working at high altitude over the Mont Blanc massif in the Alps on Thursday, prompting a major rescue operation and leaving 45 people trapped in midair overnight, France's interior minister said. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

An EC-135 helicopter operated by the French Societe' Civile hovers, Friday, Sept. 9, 2016, near three cars of the Panoramic Mont Blanc cable car where tourists were trapped after it stalled around 4 p.m. (1400 GMT) on Thursday, when its cables reportedly tangled. The cable car carrying tourists stopped working at high altitude over the Mont Blanc massif in the Alps on Thursday, prompting a major rescue operation and leaving 45 people trapped in midair overnight, France's interior minister said. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

Aerial view, Friday, Sept. 9, 2016, of three cars of the Panoramic Mont Blanc cable car where tourists were trapped after it stalled around 4 p.m. (1400 GMT) on Thursday, when its cables reportedly tangled. The cable car carrying tourists stopped working at high altitude over the Mont Blanc massif in the Alps on Thursday, prompting a major rescue operation and leaving 45 people trapped in midair overnight, France's interior minister said. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

An Italian police officer escorts a boy who was trapped overnight in cable cars which got stuck above the Alps at the foot of the cable car service after it resumed operations, in Courmayeur, Italy, Friday, Sept. 9, 2016. Dozens of tourists, including a 10-year-old child, were safely rescued Friday after being trapped in cable cars dangling at 3,600 meters altitude above the slopes of Mont Blanc in the Alps overnight. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

A tourist who was trapped overnight in cable cars which got stuck above the Alps smiles as he walks at the foot of the cable car service after being rescued once it resumed operations, in Courmayeur, Italy, Friday, Sept. 9, 2016. Dozens of tourists, including a 10-year-old child, were safely rescued Friday after being trapped in cable cars dangling at 3,600 meters altitude above the slopes of Mont Blanc in the Alps overnight. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

Journalists surround a tourist who was trapped overnight in cable cars which got stuck above the Alps, at the foot of the cable car service after it resumed operations, in Courmayeur, Italy, Friday, Sept. 9, 2016. Dozens of tourists, including a 10-year-old child, were safely rescued Friday after being trapped in cable cars dangling at 3,600 meters altitude above the slopes of Mont Blanc in the Alps overnight. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

The sun rises over the Mont Blanc, 3,842 meters (12,605 feet), between Italy and France, as seen from a helicopter, Friday, Sept. 9, 2016. Dozens of tourists who were trapped in cable cars dangling above the Alps overnight, including a 10-year-old child, have all been safely rescued. A series of cable cars got stuck after cables tangled at 3,600 meters altitude over the Mont Blanc massif in the Alps on Thursday, prompting a major rescue operation. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

A view of the Mont Blanc 3,842 meters (12,605 feet) massif, center, as seen from the Italian side, near Courmayeur, Friday, Sept. 9, 2016. Dozens of tourists who were trapped in cable cars dangling above the Alps overnight, including a 10-year-old child, have all been safely rescued. A series of cable cars got stuck after cables tangled at 3,600 meters altitude over the Mont Blanc massif in the Alps on Thursday, prompting a major rescue operation. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)


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mont blanc online store south africa French Alps cable cars: About 50 people stuck over mountains, rescue efforts suspended Updated September 09, 2016 12:03:23

Video: Rescue efforts suspended for stranded cable car tourists (ABC News) Map: Italy

About 50 people are stuck in cable cars high above the glaciers of Mont Blanc in the French Alps after a helicopter rescue operation was suspended as night fell, officials say.

The cable cars were stuck at "an altitude of 3,800 metres", initially with 110 people on board, Haute-Savoie region prefect Georges-Francois Leclerc said.

"We succeeded in evacuating, in very difficult conditions, 60 people in an hour and a half," Mr Leclerc said.

"We had to suspend the air transport rescue at nightfall."

Mr Leclerc did not say whether the tourists remaining in the cable cars would have to spend the entire night suspended up there.

Video: Rescue efforts were suspended at nightfall (ABC News)

The cable cars connect Aiguille du Midi on the French side of the mountains with Pointe Helbronner on the Italian border.

The problem was caused by cables that got crossed for "unknown reasons" around 1400 GMT and the employees of the Mont-Blanc Company were not able to repair them, said Mathieu Dechavanne, CEO of the company that manages the cable cars.

Earlier, Mr Dechavanne said the rescue operation, including three helicopters from Switzerland, France and Italy, "will take some time but the weather is good".

Weather conditions later deteriorated, turning cloudy at the high altitudes.

"We are in contact with the clients [in the cable cars]. They have water and some means of communication but are beginning to find it's taking a long time," Mr Dechavanne had said.

Australian tourist Louise Banks rode the cars just a few hours before they became stuck.

"Very fast and bouncy cable car ... fastest I've ever been on," she wrote on Instagram.

"I am so thankful that I wasn't there. I've done a lot of cable cars in my time and this one was definitely the fastest and bouncier as I said before."

The cable cars, which carry four passengers each, offer a panoramic view of Mont Blanc, which is at 4,810 metres, crossing from France towards Italy.

External Link: Mont Blanc cable car video

AFP

Topics: accidents---other , italy , france

First posted September 09, 2016 06:08:59



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