New footage reveals the tense lead-up to a daring rescue of eight people from a broken-down cable car in Pakistan.
Six schoolboys and two men were forced to cling onto the inside of the car for 16 hours after all but one of its supporting cables snapped, leaving it dangling askew some 1,200 feet above a ravine in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province on Tuesday.
Their terrified faces are shown in video shot by a drone sent up to inspect the scene during their rescue.
Three of them appeared to be forced to stand, with nothing to stop them falling out of the car’s open side except each other and their grip on the car’s interior.
Meanwhile, their families, neighbours and other locals are seen watching on nervously from ground level.
Later describing the ordeal, Osama Sharif, 15, said: ‘It all happened so suddenly that we thought all of us are going to die.
‘We cried, and tears were in our eyes, as we feared the cable car will go down.’
Authorities were reportedly alerted after the adults inside the car used their phones to contact relatives.
A handful of the boys were rescued one-by-one over the course of several hours by military commandos in helicopters.
After sunset, however, helicopters could no longer safely fly at the scene, so the rescuers used a makeshift chairlift to slide along the cable and grab the remaining occupants before carrying them back.
One of the boys, a 12-year-old with a heart condition named Abrar Ahmed, said the stress of the situation had caused him to faint for an hour.
He told The Times: ‘We held each other’s hands and firmly grasped the pipes of the cable car. After one hour, due to anxiety and fear, I fell unconscious.
‘All [the] others in the cable car were calling my name and crying. I got consciousness after two hours and with every gust of wind we thought, “It’s the final blow” and soon we would be going down.’
The boys had been travelling from their mountainside village of Pahsto to their school, which is four miles away across a ravine intersected by a river.
The cable car’s installation five years ago turned an hours-long trek into a 10-minute commute.
‘I feel fear in my mind about using the cable car,’ said Ata Ullah, another saved student.
‘But I have no other option. I will go to my school again when the cable car is repaired.’
The chairlift’s operator has been arrested on suspicion of overlooking safety measures.
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