75 passengers rescued after cable car accident in Germany

Dozens were left stranded in cable cars over the River Rhine in Cologne. VIDEO: REUTERS
A man and his child being rescued from a cable car over the Rhine River in Cologne, Germany, on Sunday. A cable car had crashed into a support pillar, stranding dozens of passengers in midair.
A man and his child being rescued from a cable car over the Rhine River in Cologne, Germany, on Sunday. A cable car had crashed into a support pillar, stranding dozens of passengers in midair.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

COLOGNE • Dozens of people were left stranded in midair, some as high as 40m, over the Rhine River after a cable car crashed into a support pillar in the city of Cologne in western Germany.

A dramatic rescue was staged on Sunday by German fire crews using a crane to reach the 75 trapped passengers, according to the BBC.

Photos showed children clinging onto their parents as they were lowered to the ground.

There were no casualties in the accident, although The Guardian reported that a pregnant woman and a woman suffered slight injuries during the rescue operation. The public transportation authorities said 32 cable cars were in operation at the time of the accident.

It was not clear what caused the mishap, which resulted in the entire system coming to a standstill.

"Something like this has never happened before," Cologne Mayor Henriette Reker told the Daily Mail. She said she had used the cable cars several times and had no concerns about the system because of the incident.

Couple Martina and Hans-Peter Rieger, the first to be rescued, told The Guardian that they were on a cable car ride to celebrate their 41st wedding anniversary.

A man and his child being rescued from a cable car over the Rhine River in Cologne, Germany, on Sunday. A cable car had crashed into a support pillar, stranding dozens of passengers in midair.
A man and his child being rescued from a cable car over the Rhine River in Cologne, Germany, on Sunday. A cable car had crashed into a support pillar, stranding dozens of passengers in midair. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Mr Rieger said the rescue crew used hand signals to get them to remain calm and that the incident was "nothing bad". "That will always be in our memory," he added.

German media reported that rescue teams in Cologne had practised for an incident on the gondola just a week ago, according to The Guardian.

Cable cars in Cologne are a popular means of transport, connecting the zoo to the Rheinpark across the river.

Mr Thomas Miebach, managing director of the Cologne cableway company, told the Daily Mail he was baffled as to how the cable car bumped into the pillar, particularly as there was no strong breeze.

The system remained closed on Sunday evening as officials worked to establish the cause of the accident.

On June 26, seven people, most of them tourists, were killed when a pine tree fell onto a cable car and sent it plunging to earth at a ski resort in Indian Kashmir.

Last year, 33 tourists stranded in cable cars due to strong winds were safely lowered to the ground after an 18-hour ordeal on Mont Blanc, western Europe's highest peak.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 01, 2017, with the headline '75 passengers rescued after cable car accident in Germany'. Print Edition | Subscribe