An incredible video has emerged that captures the moment military commandos rescued a schoolchild who was stranded in a broken-down cable car, suspended 1,200 feet above a steep valley in Pakistan. The rescue operation is still underway in Pakistan for eight people - including six children - who were trapped in a cable car dangling over a valley.
Seven children and a teacher found themselves stranded in the cable car after a cable snapped at around 7 am on a Tuesday. The incident occurred when the children and the teacher were traveling to a school in a remote mountainous region in Battagram.
The Pakistani military dispatched helicopters to the scene to rescue the stranded children. The operation involved retrieving each child individually. At the time of writing this report, Pakistani officials confirmed that four children have been successfully rescued.
Videos captured by onlookers at a nearby hillside showed the intense scene where a rescuer, suspended from a helicopter, was lowered toward the cable car that was hanging from a solitary cable. The child was securely fastened in a harness and then transported to the ground.
Upon being lowered, the children were met by medical professionals at the helipad. After the first two children were rescued, authorities reported that they were in stable condition and were being transported for additional medical assessments.
Presently, military commandos are actively engaged in the mission to rescue the remaining children and their teacher who are still stranded.
Faisal Karim Kundi, the central secretary of information for the Pakistan People's Party, told the BBC that four children had been successfully rescued.
The distressing incident unfolded early in the morning as the children were using the cable car for their journey to school.
The cable car dramatically broke down at a height of 1,200 feet during its journey in a remote and mountainous region within the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
The rescue operation has been made challenging due to the presence of strong winds in the area.
Moreover, the risk of helicopters' rotor blades potentially destabilizing the cable car has made the mission even more complicated. Also, the rescue efforts have been hampered by the approaching darkness.
Gulfaraz, a 20-year-old passenger on the cable car, called the local television station Geo News and begged for help, saying, "Our situation is precarious, for god's sake do something,"
He noted that the children trapped in the cable car were between the ages of 10 and 15. He also mentioned that one of the children had lost consciousness due to the heat and fear.
Rapid Action to Save Lives
Tanveer Ur Rehman, a local government official, told AFP that before beginning the rescue effort, several military helicopters flew surveillance sorties and an airman was lowered by a harness to deliver food, water, and medicine.
"This is a delicate operation that demands meticulous accuracy. The helicopter can not approach the chairlift closely, as its downwash (air pressure) might snap the sole chain supporting it," he said.
Worried crowds gathered on each side of the ravine, which was several hours from any sizable settlement.
"Every time the helicopter lowered the rescuer closer to the chairlift, the wind from the helicopter would shake and disbalance the chairlift making the children scream in fear," Ghulamullah, chairman of the Allai valley area, told Geo News.
The cable car broke down around 7 am local time. Residents started using mosque loudspeakers to alert local authorities across the Allai valley.
Headmaster Ali Asghar Khan told via phone to AFP that the stranded children were adolescent boys who were students at his government high school, Battangi Pashto.
"The school is located in a mountainous area and there are no safe crossings, so it's common to use the chairlift," Khan said.
"The parents are gathered at the site of the chairlift. What can they do? They are waiting for the rescue officials to get their children out. We are all worried."
Abid Ur Rehman, a teacher from a different school in the area, said that around 500 people had gathered to observe the ongoing rescue operation.
"Parents and women are crying for the safety of their children," he told AFP.
Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar has issued an order for a comprehensive inspection of all cable cars operating in mountainous regions. Those cable cars found to be non-compliant with safety standards are to be promptly shut down.
The rescue operation has captured the attention of the entire country, captivating Pakistanis who have gathered around television screens. Local media has been broadcasting footage of an emergency worker suspended from a helicopter cable in close proximity to the small cable car cabin, where the passengers were tightly packed together.
In 2017, people were killed in a tragic incident when a chairlift cable snapped, causing passengers to plummet into a ravine in a mountain village close to the capital city, Islamabad.