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Children Left Dangling in the Air for Hours as Chairlift Cables Break

Pakistani officials were scrambling a rescue effort on Tuesday after seven schoolchildren and an adult were left hanging dangerously for hours in a chairlift at an altitude of 6,500 feet after two of its cables broke.

The breakage happened around 8:30 a.m. in Allai, in the Battagram district of Khyber-Pakhthunkwa Province. The chairlift, which spans a stream, is a regular mode of transport for residents of the mountainous northern region, and the children, ages 10 to 12, were en route to a nearby school.

As panic gripped the passengers and their families, they issued urgent pleas for assistance. The authorities were working Tuesday afternoon to devise a rescue plan involving the army’s rapid response force and special services commandos, including the use of a helicopter.

A soldier during a mission to rescue students stuck in a chairlift in the Battagram district on Tuesday.Credit…Farooq Naeem/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

One of the passengers told a local TV news network that he and the others had been stuck for more than six hours without food or water. He said that one child with a heart condition had fainted after panicking. “My mobile phone battery is depleting fast,” he said.

The cause of the cable breakage was unclear. Anwaar-ul Haq Kakar, the country’s interim prime minister, called the chairlift accident “alarming” as he ordered the rescue operation.

Mr. Kakar instructed the authorities to carry out safety inspections on all private chairlifts to ensure their safety, according to a statement from his office.

This is a developing story.

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