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2 dead, 15 remain trapped mid-air in Jh'khand ropeway mishap

Source: PTI
Last updated on: April 12, 2022 00:57 IST
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A man was killed on Monday after falling off a helicopter during a rescue operation following Sunday's Jharkhand ropeway accident, while 15 people trapped inside cable cars will have to wait out one more night before they are brought down to safey, officials said.

IMAGE: Rescue work under progress by Indian Air Force and National Disaster  Response Force at Trikut Hill after a collision of cable cars, in Deogar district. Photograph: PTI Photo

A woman, who was injured in the accident, had succumbed on Sunday night.

Thirty-two people have so far been rescued, winched up by two Indian Air Force helicopters, or by sliding down the nylon ropes, more than 28 hours after two cable cars collided mid-air, stalling the ropeway, around 20 km from the temple town of Baidyanath Dham in Deoghar district.

A woman was killed and 12 people were injured in the accident.

The rescued passengers were airlifted with the help of two IAF choppers, Deoghar Deputy Commissioner Manjunath Bhajantri said.

 

Dramatic visuals showed fidgety people inside the cable cars that hung in air against the backdrop of a rocky hill cliff that overlooked a densely-forested valley.

Helicopters whirred overhead, winching up people stuck in the gondolas overnight, after the accident.

A woman tied to a chair slid down a rope dangling from one of the cable cars, while a little girl made it to safety the same way.

Everything appeared moving smoothly until a man being winched into a helicopter began swinging dangerously, apparently losing his grip over the rope, his only potential link to life.

IMAGE: A helicopter hovers above during a rescue operation after the collision of two cable cars at Trikut Ropeway. Photograph: Courtesy @ITBP_official/Twitter

Seconds before he could be pulled inside the aircraft, he lost his grip and plunged hundreds of feet into the valley.

"Thirty-two people were rescued with the help of choppers, while 15 people are still trapped mid-air in the cable cars suspended at varying heights, the maximum being nearly 1,500 feet. The rescue operation had to be stopped after sunset and will resume tomorrow," Additional Director General of Police R K Mallick told PTI.

Mallick said there is heavy security deployment in the area and the rescue effort by joint teams of the Air Force, Army, ITBP and NDRF will recommence early on Tuesday.

He also said a man fell from a chopper in the course of rescue and was rushed to hospital, where he died.

According to Deoghar Civil Surgeon C K Sahi, he succumbed to injuries after falling from a considerable height.

Local Bharatiya Janata Party MP Nishikant Dubey, however, claimed three people were killed in the accident that took place around 4 pm on Sunday. Drones were used to supply food and water to those trapped in the cable cars.

Expressing sorrow over the incident, Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren said rescue and relief operations are being conducted on a war footing.

Governor Ramesh Bais said,"The accident on the ropeway built on Trikut mountain of Deoghar, a world-famous religious place, is very sad and painful. I express my deepest condolences to the families of the deceased and pray to Baba Baidyanath for the speedy recovery of the injured."

Health Minister Banna Gupta said an inquiry will be conducted and action taken against those found guilty of negligence.

Bhajantri said the accident occurred due to a fault in the ropeway system.

IMAGE: A person hangs on a cable at Trikut Hill after collision of cable cars. Photograph: Handout from deputy collector of Deoghar district via PTI Photo

The 766-metre-long Trikut ropeway, according to the Jharkhand Tourism Department, is India's highest vertical ropeway.

The ropeway was being run by a private company. Operators running it fled shortly after the accident.

A visibly relieved Sandip, who was stuck in a trolley for 19 hours, said, "I feel Baba Baidyanath (Lord Shiva) gave me a second life. I can't explain the harrowing experience of hanging in a trolley overnight. It was frightening."

Devang Jaipal from West Bengal said he wanted to enjoy some time in the lap of nature with the 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 with the help of drones," he said.

BJP national vice-president and former Jharkhand chief minister Raghubar Das accused the state government of being inactive, even after such a major accident, and claimed that ministers hailing from the region did not visit the spot. Union Home Minister Amit Shah is keeping an eye on the entire incident, he said.

A cable car accident in the ski-resort of Gulmarg two-and-a-half years back saw a family of four and three tourist guides crash to their death after the ropeway snapped.

Another ropeway accident in January 2019 in Jammu had caused the death of two workers.

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