The world’s eyes turned to Pakistan on Tuesday afternoon after news reports appeared emerged that a chairlift carrying children and adults got stranded hundreds of feet above the ground midway through its journey across a valley in Battagram, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Two of the three cables connected to the pod snapped, leaving the children tethered midair between 7am to 8am.

The cable car was privately run by locals for transportation across rivers as there were no roads or bridges in the remote area.

The cable car, along with passengers, remained dangling in the middle of a deep ravine surrounded by towering mountains and a rocky surface along side the Jhangri river for more than 12 hours.

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At 11:56 am, the official account of National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) tweeted that a helicopter has been sent for rescue operation in collaboration with Pakistan Army and Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA).

At the same time, interim Prime Minister, Anwaar ul Haq Kakar tweeted that directions have been given to relevant authorities to ensure safe rescue and evacuation of the eight people stuck in the chair lift.

The dramatic and dangerous rescue began with army helicopters and SSG commandos saving a child at around 6:30 pm via a sling lowered from the helicopter on the fourth attempt after three failed ones. Four helicopters were being utilized and the rescue operation was being led by GOC SSG.

As day light was almost ending and unfavorable weather conditions were rising, a ground operation started with the help of locals. Initially there was a claim that two children have been rescued via sling operation but later it was confirmed that only one was successfully rescued.

Rescuer and employee of a local company specializing in retrieving vehicles and dead bodies from rivers, Sahib Khan, who along with Ali Swati, Ilyas and Hammad participated in the rescue operation by zip lining. While talking to Reuters he said:

“The incident happened at around 7:00 a.m. , we arrived there around 8:00 a.m. or 9:00 a.m. The helicopters were coming and going, but they did not give us permission to make an effort at saving the kids. However, when evening set in, they said ‘you can go ahead’. They had rescued one child, seven were still stranded. We started our operation, and thank God we rescued all seven of them. By the grace of Allah, all of them are fine.”

While talking to Hum News, Ali Swati, founder of Heaven’s Way Zipline Pvt Limited, said that he was contacted by Deputy Commissioner Mansehra, Bilal Shahid Rao, who told him the army helicopter is time taking and risky and the people can be rescued by zip lining.

“It took us 3 to 4 hours to rescue 7 people. One person was rescued by the Army. Our own lives were at risk. We planned this for 20 to 25 minutes, checking our harnesses and the amount of weight they can endure.”

He further added that the people stuck there had spent more than 15 hours stranded mid-air. One child, who was unconscious, had already been given water by the army, which helped him in gaining consciousness. The effectees were afraid that they all might fall due to the addition of zip liners and another “dolli”.

“We made them all relax for five minutes. Then my staff member Ilyas moved in the dolli and gave everyone their equipment. We secured them on the wire too to ensure safety,” he added.

The rescue operation was concluded around 11pm, almost 15 hours after the ordeal started for stranded locals.