Last of 174 people rescued from stranded cable cars in Turkey | Turkey


Passengers had been trapped in mid-air overnight after a pod hit a pole and burst open, killing one person and injuring others


Sat 13 Apr 2024 19.45 CEST

The last 43 of 174 people stranded in cable cars high above a mountain in southern Turkey have been brought to safety, nearly 23 hours after one pod hit a pole and burst open, killing one person and injuring 10 when they plummeted to the rocks below.

The interior minister, Ali Yerlikaya, announced the successful completion of the rescue operation on X on Saturday afternoon.

A total of 607 search and rescue personnel and 10 helicopters were involved, including teams from Turkey’s emergency response agency, Afad, the coast guard, firefighting teams and mountain rescue teams from different parts of Turkey, officials said. Helicopters with night-vision capabilities had continued rescuing people throughout the night.

A rescuer at work on Saturday. Photograph: Anadolu/Getty Images

The stranded people had been stuck on the Tunektepe cable car, just outside the Mediterranean city of Antalya, since 5.30pm on Friday, when the accident occurred.

Istanbul resident Ayse Hatice Polat and her family were among those rescued. Speaking to the Anadolu agency, she said the power went out and the pod flipped four or five times.

“The night was awful, we were very scared. There were children with us, they passed out,” she said. “It was torture being up there for seven hours. It is swaying every second, you’re constantly in fear … It was very traumatic, I don’t know how we’ll get over this trauma.”

Okay Memis, the head of Turkey’s disaster and emergency management agency Afad, said the people had been rescued from at least 16 cable cars after a “very dangerous operation”.

He said: “This accident occurred following the breakage of a mechanism at the top of a cable car pylon.”

State-run Anadolu Agency identified the deceased as a 54-year-old Turkish man. Those injured included two children, six or more Turkish citizens and one Kyrgyz national. They were all rescued by coast guard helicopters soon after the crash and sent for treatment. Images in Turkish media showed the battered car swaying from dislodged cables on the side of the rocky mountain as medics tended the wounded.

Yerlikaya also announced that 13 people rescued from other cars were also taken to hospitals for checkups.

Friday was the final day of a three-day public holiday in Turkey marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, when families flock to coastal resorts.

The cable car carries tourists from Konyaalti beach to a restaurant and viewing platform at the summit of the 618-metre (2,010 foot) Tunektepe peak. It is run by Antalya metropolitan municipality. The cable car line was completed in 2017 and receives a major inspection around the beginning of the year, as well as routine inspections throughout the year.

Antalya chief public prosecutor’s office has launched an investigation. An expert commission including mechanical and electrical engineers and health and safety experts has been assigned to determine the cause of the incident.

Thirteen people, including managers of the cable car company, received detention orders as part of an investigation into the causes of the accident, Turkish justice minister Yilmaz Tunc said.

“The incident occurred because of inadequate and corroded fastenings at the connection points of the cable car’s support towers,” Tunc said on X, formerly Twitter, referring to a preliminary report that also pointed to the poor condition of the pulley systems.


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