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14 more rescued from ropeway in Jharkhand's Deoghar district; 1 dead

Police personnel and locals gather at ropeway site near Trikut after some cable cars on a ropeway collided with one another, in Deoghar on April 10, 2022.

Police personnel and locals gather at ropeway site near Trikut after some cable cars on a ropeway collided with one another, in Deoghar on April 10, 2022. | Photo Credit: PTI

Attempts to rescue cable car passengers stranded for over 46 hours in Jharkhand's Deoghar district ended with a tragedy on Tuesday as a 60-year-old woman fell to her death as she was being winched up from a helicopter, raising the toll to three.

However all other tourists, numbering 60, stranded since Sunday 4 p.m. in cable cars after a ropeway malfunction which resulted in trolleys colliding at Trikut hills, were successfully evacuated by Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopters.

Fourteen of the last remaining 15 tourists, who were trapped mid-air for more than 40 hours, were rescued during the day.

"Of the remaining 15 people trapped in cable cars overnight, 14 were rescued while a woman fell off the chopper during the course of the operation," Additional Director General of Police R.K. Mallick told PTI.

Deoghar Civil Surgeon C.K. Shahi said the woman, identified as 60-year-old Shobha Devi, was declared dead on being taken to a hospital. It was unclear whether the harness on her or the rope which was being used to pull her snapped, resulting in her fall and eventual death.

Mr. Mallick said the rescued people were sent to hospitals, where they would be examined. Three persons have died so far, including two tourists who fell to their death as they were being winched up from helicopters on Monday and Tuesday during botched rescue attempts, while 12 injured are undergoing treatment at hospitals.

The rescue operation was conducted jointly by the IAF, Army, Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and the district administration. Food and water were supplied to the stranded people using drones.

Chief Minister Hemant Soren had ordered a high-level probe into the incident.

HC order

Meanwhile, the Jharkhand High Court on Tuesday took suo motu cognisance of the Deoghar ropeway accident.

“It is reported in newspapers that some technical institutions had warned about the flaws in the planning of this ropeway but it was not given any attention by the concerned and NOC [no-objection certificate] was granted by the department concerned of the State for running the ropeway. This is a very serious matter which requires thorough investigation”, said a Bench comprising Chief Justice Ravi Ranjan and Justice Sujit Narayan Prasad. The next hearing has been fixed for April 25.

“Let an affidavit be filed on behalf of the State, both covering the reasons for this mishap as well as the rescue operation, and on the enquiry”, the Bench said.

Midair collision

On April 10 evening, cable cars of the Deoghar ropeway running on the Trikut hills, near the famous Baba Baidyanath temple, collided midair due to some technical glitch.

The rescue operation took over 40 hours and ended on Tuesday.

An IAF release said it pressed into service two Mi-17V5, one Mi-17, one Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) and one Cheetah to “fly for more than 26 hours”. The IAF contingent for the operation included five Garud commandos.

Tourists from Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal were said to be in the cable cars of the ropeway.

(With PTI inputs)

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Printable version | Apr 13, 2022 7:24:51 am |