December 6, 2005

Positivity: Women Rescued After Cable-Car Ordeal (South Africa)

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:12 am

A harrowing experience turns out well:

Women rescued after cable car ordeal

Two women were left dangling in midair for almost five hours when their cable car was apparently derailed at Hartbeespoort Dam.

Several metres below them, about 35m from the ground, a man and a woman were also stuck in their cable car.

The four people were on their way down from the mountain at around 6pm on Saturday when the cable apparently came off the pulley wheels.

Johan Pieterse, of the Tshwane emergency services, said that when emergency officials arrived at the scene, they immediately built a scaffolding beneath the lower car and managed to rescue the couple before the sun set behind the mountain.

The pair were apparently in good spirits despite their traumatic experience
But the two women in the upper car – one in her late 40s and the other in her 50s – were not so lucky. Their car stopped almost three-quarters up the mountain in front of a cliff.

Rob Thomas, of the Mountain Club, said they were called in to assist the two women as it was very difficult to reach their cable car.

“This car was the trickiest to reach. It hung between two pylons, which were far apart,” he said.

His team had to drive to the top of the mountain on a treacherous road while darkness settled around them. They then had to climb down to the pylon nearest to the cable car.

By 8pm, the mountain rescuers managed to set up two “bases” on the mountain – one underneath the cable car and one a bit higher – which provided them with light.

Three rescuers climbed to the top of the pylon just above the car. One attached himself to the thick cable and slid down it towards the car. He was attached to the other two with a rope.

“We didn’t want to cause unnecessary movement to the system,” Thomas said.

When the rescuer finally reached the car, he put harnesses on the two women. The pair were apparently in good spirits despite their traumatic experience, Thomas said.

They were then lowered one by one to the team of rescuers at the base beneath the car. Thomas said the last woman touched ground at about 11pm.

The last rescuer made it down two hours later.

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