France: Skiers left hanging after gondola breakdown in French Alps | News | DW | 24.12.2017
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France: Skiers left hanging after gondola breakdown in French Alps

More than 100 skiers have been rescued after a gondola lift system broke down at the Chamrousse resort in the French Alps. Two helicopters were used to secure the stranded skiers and lower them to safety.

Scores of skiers were stranded for hours at the Chamrousse ski resort in south-eastern France on Sunday after a cable railway broke down, authorities said.

Two helicopters worked quickly to free the skiers and snowboarders from each gondola and the rescue operation was able to wrap up by nightfall.

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What we know:

  • Between 100 and 150 people were stuck in 70 gondola cars
  • Rescuers dropped into each car's roof hatch to release the skiers, secure them with ropes and lower them to safety
  • Some of those rescued had been dangling in the cars for up to two hours
  • No reports of injuries
  • It is still unclear what caused the system to malfunction

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'In time for Christmas Eve'

Local tourist office head Franck Lecoutre said: "They will all be home in time for Christmas Eve."

Praising the fast work of the rescuers, France's national police wrote on Twitter that "a hundred skiers stuck in gondolas will finally have a Merry Christmas" and will be able to open their presents after all.

Local media and witnesses also posted images of the rescue operation on Twitter:

High-flying cars: The gondola cars shuttle skiers and snowboarders up the mountain, running 25 meters (82 feet) above the ground. They can carry up to 10 people per car.

Bustling ski resorts: Tourists have flocked to ski resorts across Europe due to the Christmas holidays and prime weather conditions for winter sports.

rs/aw (AP, AFP, dpa)

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