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7 including Delhi family killed as tree falls on cable car rope in Gulmarg, CM orders probe

The Gulmarg cable car accident also left several tourists stranded at the popular hill station in north Kashmir.

india Updated: Jun 25, 2017 23:26 IST
Abhishek Saha
Abhishek Saha
Hindustan Times, Srinagar
Gulmarg,Cable car,Gondola
One of the cable cars that were flexed violently when a tree fell on the rope. Seven people in two cars died due to what initial examinations suggest were internal injuries.(Waseem Andrabi/HT Photo)

Seven people including a family of four from Delhi were killed in a freak accident that hit Gulmarg’s famous Gondola cable lift system on Sunday.

Officials said a tree fell on the ropeway, causing it to recoil so violently that passengers in two cars were left with fatal injuries.

Among the dead were Jayant Andraskar, his wife Manshea and their daughters Anagha and Janhvi — residents of Delhi’s Shalimar Bagh, and their guide Mukhtar Ahmad Ganai.

Jahangir Ahmed Khanday, also a local guide, and Farooq Ahmad Chopan were the other casualties.

Locals said a storm hit the region around 3pm. “A tree was uprooted, and it hit a second tree that fell on the ropeway. Seven people were killed,” said Imtiyaz Hussain, the senior superintendent of police in Baramullah.

Authorities at Tanmarg hospital, where the bodies were taken, said the victims showed signs of multiple internal injuries.

Passengers who were stuck on the cable lift system for three hours after the accident emerge in shock. ( Waseem Andrabi/HT photo )

“The post-mortem examinations will be conducted tomorrow before the bodies are flown to Delhi,” a doctor at the hospital told Hindustan Times.

Chief minister Mehbooba Mufti announced a Rs 5 lakh payout to the relatives of those who died and ordered a high-level investigation.

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

Survivors in other cars recounted feeling shocked when they stopped moving with a violent lurch.

“It was panic for the three hours that we were stuck on the cable car,” said Rekha Lakhanpal, an Indian-origin American woman visiting Kashmir with her Delhi-based relative Chitra Wazir Kumar.

“Our car was right behind the victims’. We saw it happen,” said a shaken Kumar, who later said she was grateful to their guide Muzaffar Hussain who kept talking to them to calm them down.

The system was stopped for three hours after the tree fell, and officials slowly started to reel in the cars that had been in the air around 6pm. The services was resumed after checks to bring back nearly 150 people who were stuck at the Kongdori station.

According to officials, civilians — tour guides and operators of all-terrain vehicles in the region — assisted in rescue efforts that was carried out by the local administration, police and the Indian Army.

According to the Jammu and Kashmir state tourism department website, the Gulmarg Gondola ferries nearly 600 people per hour. It was set up jointly by the Jammu and Kashmir government and French firm Pomagalski.

First Published: Jun 25, 2017 16:40 IST