Ten of the 15 tourists who remained trapped mid-air in cable cars connecting the Trikut Hills in Jharkhand’s Deoghar district for about 40 hours were rescued by Indian Air Force choppers that resumed rescue operations early on Tuesday morning, officials said.
Some 50 people have been rescued so far from cable cars which were left dangling mid-air after a malfunction of the ropeway, which saw trolley cars colliding on Sunday 4 pm. Two persons have died so far, including one on Monday, who fell to his death during a botched helicopter rescue attempt, while 12 persons who were injured are being treated in hospitals.
Rescue operations are being conducted by the combined teams of Indian Air Force, Army, ITBP, NDRF and the district administration.
“The people trapped during the ropeway journey on Trikut mountain are being rescued by the team of Air Force and NDRF. So far, seven people have been rescued,” Deoghar Deputy Commissioner Manjunath Bhajantri said.
Bhajantri said rescue operations were started by the teams of Air Force, Indian Army, NDRF, ITBP and local administration early morning, so that the remaining trapped people could be rescued.
Rescue operations had to be stopped after sunset as the ropeway runs through a picturesque yet densely forested area surrounded by hills, access to which is difficult except by air. Also making rescue from the ground difficult is the fact that the trolleys are suspended at heights of up to 1500 feet.
Meanwhile, Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren announced a high-level probe into the mishap and said the administration was keeping a close vigil on the rescue operation.
Meanwhile, the rescued passengers were airlifted with the help of two Indian Air Force helicopters. Drones were used to supply food and water to those who remain trapped mid-air in the cable cars.
“The government is keeping a close watch on the situation,” Soren said.
Jharkhand Governor Ramesh Bais had 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.”
BJP vice-president and former Jharkhand chief minister Raghubar Das had 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 site.
“The government did not care about the lives of the people. The inability to make quick decisions resulted in passengers hanging in the air overnight,” Das said, demanding a compensation of Rs 1 crore to the next of kin of the deceased.
An area which boasts of the famous Trikutachal Mahadeva Temple and the hermitage of Sage Dayananda, Trikut Hills has several peaks, with the highest peak at the height of 2,470 feet from the sea level and around 1,500 feet from the ground.
The Trikut ropeway, according to the Jharkhand tourism department, is India’s highest vertical ropeway. It is around 766 metres long.