Gulmarg cable-car service suspended, French experts called in for checks

The government says it will take the experts at least 10 days to do a thorough check of the Gulmarg gondola service, a key attraction of the famous tourist town.

cities Updated: Jun 26, 2017 16:43 IST
Abhishek Saha
Abhishek Saha
Hindustan Times, Srinagar
Gulmarg,Gondola,Cable car
An operator brings cable cars to a halt at the end of the day in Gulmarg in north Kashmir on Sunday. Four tourists and three locals died when two cable cars were knocked against a hill during a storm in the tourist town on Sunday . (PTI photo)

The cable-car service in Jammu and Kashmir’s Gulmarg would remain suspended for at least 10 days, an official said on Monday, a day after seven people were killed when two gondolas were knocked against a hill during a storm.

The services were resorted Sunday evening but experts from the French company Pomagalski, which set up the popular gondola lift, would be called in for checks and maintenance work, Mahmood Ahmad Shah, director of the state tourism department, told HT.

A Delhi-based couple, their two young daughters and three locals -- two of them travel guides -- were killed when a tree uprooted by a storm fell on the ropeway.

At least two cars were knocked against the hill side and recoiled violently, killing seven people on the spot and injuring four.

The system was up two hours after the crash and by 6pm all 150 stranded passengers were brought back to the base station.

The cable cars would run only after a thorough check by the French experts and it could take 10-15 days, Shah said.

The gondola service is among key tourist attractions in a region counted among Asia’s best ski resorts. It is one of the highest and longest cable-based lift services in the continent, ferrying passengers to and from the Gulmarg to the Kongdori station roughly 4,000 feet above.

Some pine trees that dot the picturesque hills, which get a thick snow cover in the winters, might have to be cut. “For cutting down trees, we will need appropriate clearances,” he said.

Shah said Jayant Andraskar, his wife Manshea and their daughters Anagha and Janhvi, who lived in Delhi’s Shalimar Garden, hailed from Nagpur. “The bodies have already been airlifted from Srinagar and are on the way to Nagpur,” he said.

Jayant taught civil engineering at Delhi’s Pusa Institute and Manshea was a homemaker. They moved to the Capital five years ago.

Former chief minister Omar Abdullah expressed grief over the accident. “Heart breaking images coming out of #Gulmarg. What a tragic way for a family holiday to end. Can’t sympathise enough with the families,” he tweeted.

First Published: Jun 26, 2017 12:48 IST