3 dead, 15 trapped mid-air in Jharkhand ropeway horror

Air Force choppers rescue 32 people who remained trapped for over 28 hours; rescue ops halted on Monday evening due lack of visibility

Law Kumar Mishra | Updated on: Monday, April 11, 2022, 11:44 PM IST

Deoghar: Police personnel and locals gather at ropeway site near Trikut after some cable cars on a ropeway collided with one another, in Deoghar, Sunday, April 10, 2022.  | (PTI Photo)
Deoghar: Police personnel and locals gather at ropeway site near Trikut after some cable cars on a ropeway collided with one another, in Deoghar, Sunday, April 10, 2022. | (PTI Photo)

Deoghar: One more person died on Monday after falling from a chopper during a rescue operation for trapped passengers following malfunction of a ropeway in Jharkhand's Deoghar district, pushing the toll to three. Around 32 people have been rescued while 15 remain trapped mid-air in a row of cable cars, nearly 28 hours after the accident took place around 20 km from the famous Baba Baidyanath temple in Deoghar. Two people had died late on Sunday and 12 were injured.

The rescued passengers were airlifted with the help of two Air Force helicopters, Deoghar Deputy Commissioner Manjunath Bhajantri said. The ropeway, which runs through a picturesque and densely-forested valley, is surrounded by hills, making the operation difficult, except by air. “Thirty-two people were rescued while 15 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 on Tuesday,” Additional Director General of Police RK Mallick said.

Mallick said there was heavy security deployment and the rescue effort by joint teams of the Air Force, the Army, ITBP and NDRF will recommence early on Tuesday. He also confirmed that one person fell from a chopper in the course of rescue and was rushed to hospital where he died.

Drones were used to supply food and water to those who remain trapped mid-air in the cable cars. Eleven of the stranded tourists were rescued on Sunday night. Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren said rescue and relief operations are being conducted on war footing. “The government is keeping a close watch on the situation,” he said.

The 766-metre Trikut ropeway, according to the Jharkhand Tourism Department, is India's highest vertical ropeway. Sandip, who was stuck in a trolley for 19 hours, said, “I feel Baba Baidyanath gave me a second life. I can't explain the harrowing experience in a hanging trolley overnight. It was frightening.”He said the power supply of the trolley suddenly went off and it stopped mid-way. “When I called on the helpline number around 4 pm on Sunday, I was told that it stopped due to a snag which is being rectified. I called them again around 7 pm. They said the ropeway is not working and we will be rescued on Monday.”

Another person who was rescued on Monday, Devang Jaipal from West Bengal, said, “After offering prayers at Baba Baidyanath temple, 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 food and water through drones. Thanks to the administration for saving our lives,” he said.

A similar cable car accident two-and-a-half years ago in the ski-resort of Gulmarg, where the ropeway had snapped, resulted in a family of four and three tourist guides crashing to their death. Another ropeway accident in January 2019 in Jammu had caused the death of two workers.

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Published on: Monday, April 11, 2022, 11:44 PM IST