French Alps cable cars rescue due to resume


An operation to rescue people trapped overnight in a series of cable cars in the French Alps is due to resume.

Forty-five tourists spent Thursday night suspended above the glaciers of Mont Blanc at an altitude of about 3,800m (12,468ft).

They were among 110 people initially trapped when the cable cars ground to a halt on Thursday afternoon.

It is believed that the cars stopped after cables became tangled in high winds.

Sixty-five people were evacuated by helicopter late on Thursday but the rescue operation had to be suspended when night fell and clouds hampered visibility.

“We were forced to suspend operations for safety reasons,” said Georges Francois Leclerc, prefect of the Haute-Savoie department.

“We hope to get everyone on Friday morning,” he said, adding that it was “a very complex operation”.

The stranded tourists have been given survival blankets, energy bars and bottles of water.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said first aid workers had spent the night in the cable cars with those trapped.

Local officials said the operation would resume at 06:30 local time (04:30 GMT).

Mathieu Dechavanne, the head of the cable car company, said it appeared that cables had crossed over “for unexplained reasons” but probably due to strong gusts of wind.

French, Italian and Swiss teams are taking part in rescue efforts and they have three helicopters at their disposal.

The cable cars connect the Aiguille de Midi peak in France, at 3,842m (12,605ft), to Pointe Helbronner in Italy, at 3,462m (11,358ft) and offer a panoramic view of Mont Blanc.



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