Rescue squads scrambled as ski lift breaks down in Italy

People using a ski lift in the French Alps in November 2016.
People using a ski lift in the French Alps in November 2016.PHOTO: AFP

ROME (REUTERS) - A ski lift in northern Italy broke down on Saturday (Dec 24), trapping more than 120 holiday skiers in gondola cabins about 30m off the ground and a rescue operation was under way, officials said.

Alpine rescue officials said the breakdown in the Cervinia mountain of northern Italy near the French border was likely due to winds.

Rescue squads were entering the cabins from hatches in the top of the gondolas and lowering the stranded skiers to the ground.

A spokesman for the ski area told Italian television that the situation was under control.

He said more than half of the skiers had been lowered and that the operation was due to be completed in several more hours.