174 people stranded in the air are rescued, almost a day after a fatal cable car accident in Turkey

April 13, 2024
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ISTANBUL — The last of 174 people stranded in cable cars high above a mountain in southern Turkey were brought to safety Saturday, nearly 23 hours after one pod hit a pole and burst open, killing one person and injuring seven when they plummeted to the rocks below.

Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya announced the successful completion of the rescue operation on X Saturday afternoon.

A total of 607 search and rescue personnel and 10 helicopters were involved, including teams from Turkey’s emergency response agency, AFAD, the Coast Guard, firefighting teams and mountain rescue teams from different parts of Turkey, officials said. Helicopters with night-vision capabilities had continued rescuing people throughout the night.

The stranded people had been stuck on the Tunektepe cable car, just outside the Mediterranean city of Antalya, since 5:30 p.m. on Friday, when the accident occurred.

Istanbul resident Hatice Polat and her family were rescued seven hours into the ordeal. Speaking to the Anadolu agency, she said the power went out and the pod flipped four or five times.

“The night was awful, we were very scared. There were children with us, they passed out,” she said. “It was torture being up there for seven hours. It is swaying every second, you’re constantly in fear. … It was very traumatic, I don’t know how we’ll get over this trauma.”

Image:
A severely damaged cabin of a cable car outside Antalya, southern Turkey.AP

State-run Anadolu Agency identified the deceased as a 54-year-old Turkish man. Those injured included two children and were six Turkish citizens and one Kyrgyz national. They were all rescued by Coast Guard helicopters soon after the crash and sent for treatment. Images in Turkish media showed the battered car swaying from dislodged cables on the side of the rocky mountain as medics tended the wounded.

Yerlikaya also announced that 13 people rescued from other cars were also taken to hospitals for checkups.

Friday was the final day of a three-day public holiday in Turkey marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which sees families flock to coastal resorts.

The cable car carries tourists from Konyaalti beach to a restaurant and viewing platform at the summit of the 2,010-foot Tunektepe peak. It is run by Antalya Metropolitan Municipality. The cable car line was completed in 2017 and receives a major inspection around the beginning of the year, as well as routine inspections throughout the year.

Antalya Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office has launched an investigation. An expert commission including mechanical and electrical engineers and health and safety experts was assigned to determine the cause of the incident.



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