SRINAGAR: Seven people died after a tree fell on the ropeway in Jammu and Kashmir's Gulmarg, snapped the cables and brought one of the cable cars crashing hundreds of feet to the ground. Police said the service was restored after being stopped briefly and operations are underway to rescue tourists who are stranded in 15 other cable cars.
The tree reportedly fell due to high winds. The incident is said to be the first of the kind in the Gulmarg cable car service, which started operating in 1998, and was built by the French firm Pomalgalski.
The deceased included a family with two children and a local guide Mukhtar Ahmed. The family was from Delhi -- Jayant Andraskar, his wife Manshea Andraskar and their two daughters - Anagha and Janhvi. "Rescue efforts are on to save people trapped in other cars of the gondola cable car project," the officer said.
The accident drew condemnation from former chief minister Omar Abdullah, who, expressing his condolences in a series of tweets, questioned why the cable car service wasn't shut down during high winds as a precautionary measure.
The gondola service of Gulmarg is hugely popular, drawing thousands of people in summer. The two-stage 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 that can ferry 600 people in one hour.
Gulmarg is a centre of winter sports. With one of the finest ski slopes in the world, Gulmarg drawn skiers from across the world through the winter. In winter the cable car also ferries a number of skiers.