Dozens of people were trapped in the Quito cable car for 10 hours | International

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A firefighter works in the rescue work.Quito Fire Department

The Quito cable car climbs up to 3,947 meters above the Rucu Pichincha volcano, one of the highest funicular railways in South America and a much-visited tourist attraction in the Ecuadorian capital. This Thursday, 74 people were trapped in the upper part, 27 of them were locked in the suspended cabins for ten hours, right in the middle of the road when they returned to the initial station. The other 46 tourists were stranded at the top of the mountain, when they were waiting for one of the gondolas, and had to walk for more than six hours, with intense cold and fog, following the guides of the Quito Fire Department. which activated light reflectors to aid in the descent.

The rescue operation of those who were suspended in the cabins lasted about ten hours. The Quito firefighters and the Police had to intervene to perform a vertical rescue with ropes and achieve the descent of the 27 people who were spread over 16 cabins. “We did a drone mapping to identify where all the people were,” explained the Quito Fire Department, before climbing up the towers to reach each gondola, manually opening the doors and securing each person to go ashore.

The mayor of the city, Pabel Muñoz, arrived at night after some of the trapped people published videos on social networks where they said that they had spent several hours without further information from the cable car administration. “I am absolutely outraged with the lack of a clear, efficient and safe protocol on the part of the company so that the people we later had to intervene can be rescued,” said Muñoz.

According to the authority, the Cable Car service was suspended at 4:30 p.m. but only at 6:03 p.m. the 911 emergency system was notified and the Fire Department and Police were activated, which began the rescue operation on the mountain that is northwest of Quito. at eight in the afternoon and lasted until three in the morning due to the difficult climatic and mountainous conditions in the area. "If this event had occurred during the day, the rescue conditions would have been different, simpler and with other tools that cannot be used at night," said the firefighters. Almost at dawn, the 74 people were rescued and treated by the health services. The Municipality of Quito has closed the Cable Car as a preventive measure and will check if the permits are up to date and if they have carried out maintenance.

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