Seven killed in Gulmarg cable car accident

Seven killed in Gulmarg cable car accident
The site of accident where a cable-car snapped after a tree fell on it, at the famous ski-resort of Gulmarg in north Kashmir's Baramulla district on Sunday. Five tourists, four of them from a family from Delhi, were killed in the mishap. Pic/PTI

A family of four from Delhi and three locals were killed on Sunday when a tree uprooted by strong winds sent a gondola car cabin hurtling hundreds of meters down in Jammu and Kashmir after snapping the cable, authorities said.

Police sources said several cable cars -- former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah put their number at 15 -- crashed down a valley in the tourist haven Gulmarg.

"A couple and two children were among the dead," a police officer said. A large number of security personnel were deployed to reach the site where the cable cars had fallen to take out the bodies.

The dead were identified as Jayant Anderaskar, his wife Manisha and their daughters Anagha and Jhanvi. They were reported to be from Shalimar Bagh in Delhi.

The other three victims were identified as Mukhtar Ahmed Ganie, Javed Ahmed Khandey and Farooq Ahmed -- believed to be tourist guides.

It was the first such disaster in the ropeway project which has 36 cabins and 18 towers and is a joint venture of the Jammu and Kashmir government and a French firm. It is hugely popular with tourists who flock to Gulmarg, a skiing hub.

Abdullah wondered why the cable car operations were not suspended in high winds. "That's a laid down SOP (standard operating procedure)."

"Heart breaking images coming out of Gulmarg," the National Conference leader added. "What a tragic way for a family holiday to end. Can't sympathise enough with the families."

The two-stage Gulmarg cable car lift ferries people to a height of 13,780 feet above the sea level. It is the world's second highest operating cable car project, with a cabin capacity of ferrying 600 people in one hour.

The first stage of the cable car transfers people from the Gulmarg resort at 2,600 meters (8,530 feet) to Kongdori station in the bowl-shaped Kongdori valley, according to the company which operates the cable car.

The second stage takes people to a height of 3,747 meters (12,293 feet) on Kongdori mountain.

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