On the night of Tuesday, August 23, 2023, Pakistan breathed a sigh of relief after all the children who were trapped in a broken cable car suspended at 1,200 feet were brought to safety, marking the end of an intensive rescue operation of 16 hours. .
The gondola was carrying six youngsters and two adults, believed to be teachers, to their school in the remote hilly region of Battagram, 120 miles north of Islamabad, when one of the cables snapped.
This sparked a hectic helicopter mission that lasted much of the day, seeing the students, ages 11 to 15, and their peers leave one by one.
But is it safe to use the cable cars? Do cable car accidents happen frequently in other parts of the world?
Read on below for everything you need to know about cable car safety.
Prior to the incident in Pakistan on August 22, there had been no reported problems with the cable cars, and they were considered by locals to be the best way to travel around the region. Pictured: A cable car carrying eight people hangs hundreds of meters above the ground in a Pashto village, a hilly area of Battagram district in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Tuesday, August 22, 2023.
How safe are the cable cars?
Prior to the incident in Pakistan on August 22, there had been no reported problems with the cable cars, and they were considered by locals to be the best way to travel around the region.
Mohabbat Shah, who lives in the area, said locals are willing to risk a dangerous journey because they don’t have many other ways to reach key services.
He told the BBC: ‘We pay only 10 rupees per person for a one-way trip. If we book a taxi, it will cost up to 2,000 rupees (£18.91).
The safety of cable cars has been demonstrated by the lack of incidents on similar infrastructure around the world.
Since it opened in June 2012, the London cable car has only had one notable incident.
A month after it opened, passengers were left suspended 300 feet in the air inside the cable car after a technical failure in the alarm system, no injuries were reported.
How common are cable car accidents around the world?
While the cable car that broke down in Pakistan on August 22 has not had problems before, others in different parts of the country have.
In 2017, in Muree, Punjab, an illegal car crashed and fell into a ravine. Eleven people died in the accident.
In December 2022, in Abbottabad, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 12 children on their way to school had to be rescued when a rope broke. They were also stranded over a river while waiting to be saved.
Since it opened in June 2012, the London cable car has only had one notable incident. A month after it opened, passengers were left suspended 300 feet in the air inside the cable car after a technical failure in the alarm system, no injuries were reported. Pictured: The London cable car crossing to the Greenwich Peninsula
After the Battagram incident on August 23, Anwaar ul Haq Kakar, Pakistan’s acting prime minister, called for safety inspections of all homemade cable cars.
In May 2021, 14 people died after a horrific accident in which a mountaintop cable car fell 20 meters to the ground in northern Italy.
The cable car was carrying passengers to the top of the Stresa-Mottarone line in the Piedmont region of the western Alps when it fell just 300 meters from the station.
The Mottarone cable car was inaugurated in 1970. It reaches a height of 4,900 feet and takes tourists from the town of Stresa to the top of the mountain in 20 minutes.