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More than 100 skiers rescued in Italian Alps

December 24, 2016

Around 130 skiers have been rescued after being stranded on a ski lift in the Italian Alps for more than nine hours. High winds hampered intensive efforts to bring the group to safety.

Italien Alpen  Cervinia
Image: picture alliance/Ropi

A 150-strong team was involved in the rescue operation on Saturday evening to rescue more than 100 skiers from a ski lift, hovering about 30 meters (33 yards) above the ground in the Italian resort of Cervinia.

Rescuers had to climb poles to reach the cables between the cable cars and then enter the cabins through a roof hatch. The skiers were then winched to safety on the ground, officials said.

The Italian resort is just across the border from Switzerland, on the other side of the Matterhorn mountain. Swiss air company Air Zermatt can operate night flights so the operation continued into the evening.

Strong winds of up to 150 kilometers (93 miles) per hour, which delayed the rescue operation, dropped sufficiently to allow the team to complete their mission.

At 8.30 p.m. local time (1930 UTC) the Cervinia social media information site reported that "the first skiers have been brought down from the gondola."

Adriano Favre, the head of the rescue team, announced the mission had finished just before midnight on Saturday.

"Luckily the wind wasn't too cold ... there are no cases of hypothermia, and everything is under control," he added.

The skiers were stuck between two points on the lift - between 2,300 meters (7,545 feet) and 2,800 meters altitude. 

bik,mm/jm,kl (Reuters, AFP)

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