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Three dead, 16 stranded in midair after cable car mishap in Jharkhand

A person hangs on a cable at Trikut Hill after a collision of cable cars, in the Deoghar district of Jharkhand. The mid-air collision of cable cars occurred on April 10 due to a technical snag

A person hangs on a cable at Trikut Hill after a collision of cable cars, in the Deoghar district of Jharkhand. The mid-air collision of cable cars occurred on April 10 due to a technical snag | Photo Credit: PTI

Three pesons were killed when two cable cars on a ropeway at Trikut hills in Deoghar district of Jharkhand collided on Sunday afternoon. Sixteen tourists are still trapped in stranded cable cars nearly 26 hours after the accident apparently caused by a pulley malfunction while 32 others have been rescued.

While two persons were killed in the initial collision, one person died on Monday evening when he slipped from the grasp of rescue personnel while being evacuated from a cable car and fell.

“As many as 32 people have been rescued, but 16 are still trapped in cable cars hanging in midair. The helicopters, Army personnel and NDRF teams are engaged in rescue operations. A pulley of one of the cable cars got stuck resulting in the incident,” Deoghar Deputy Commissioner Manjunath Bhajantri told reporters. Tourists from Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal were trapped in the cable cars, he added. “The rescue operation is on as some people are still stuck in some trolleys up in the air,” said NDRF assistant commandant Vinay Kumar Singh.

The rescued passengers were airlifted with the help of two Air Force helicopters, Mr. Bhajantri said.

The ropeway is situated around 20 kms from the famous Baba Baidyanath Shiv temple in Deoghar. It is around 766 meters long and has 25 cable cars running over a picturesque but densely forested valley surrounded by hills. The Trikut hills are 392 meters high, making rescue operations difficult except by helicopters.

Two Air Force choppers have been pressed into service and officials said water and food are being provided to the trapped people with the help of drones.

A tourist, Sandip, who was rescued from one of the cable cars after 19 hours, said, “I feel Baba Baidyanath gave me second life. I can’t explain the harrowing experience in a hanging trolley overnight. It was frightening.” The trolleys were hanging mid-air at a height of nearly 100 feet.

He said the power cable car suddenly stopped midway after electricity went off. “When I called on the helpline number around 4 p.m. on Sunday, I was told that it stopped due to a technical snag, which is being rectified. I again called around 7 p.m. They said the ropeway is not working and they would rescue us using choppers on Monday. We were four people in the trolley and were very scared.”

Added Devang Jaipal from West Bengal, “After offering prayer to Baba Baidyanath, I wanted to enjoy nature on this ropeway ride ... who knew that I would be hanging in a trolley for a whole night... With no food and water, we had a sleepless night on Sunday. On Monday, we were given some food and water through drones. Thanks to the NDRF, Indian Airforce and Deoghar administration for saving our lives.”

According to local people, the manager and employees of the privately run ropeway fled soon after the accident.

Meanwhile, family members of those stuck inside cable cars have gathered at the spot and expressed anger over delay in rescue operations.

Jharkhand chief minister Hemant Soren expressed grief and sorrow over the accident. ”Relief and rescue operations are being carried out on a war footing in Deoghar. NDRF and other rescue personnel are at work along with other experts and the government is monitoring the rescue operations round the clock,” Mr Soren told media persons at Ranchi airport.

However, former CM and BJP leader Raghuvar Das slammed the “ineffectual” Soren government for failing to rescue people “dangling in the air for last 24-hours now”. Mr Das also demanded ₹1 crore compensation and government jobs for the kin of the deceased and said “the State government should also bear all the medical treatment expenses of those injured”.

The BJP MP from neighboring Godda district Nishikant Dubey said, “Getting information about the incident I immediately bring it into notice of Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Jharkhand chief secretary and requested them for deployment of NDRF teams there for rescue operations”.

(With inputs from PTI)

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Printable version | Apr 12, 2022 7:30:05 am |