Thursday, March 16, 2017

Trapped on freezing Teide

Mount Teide seen from La Gomera recently
More than 100 people had to spend last night in freezing temperatures at about 11.000 feet near the top of Spain's s highest mountain after the cable car to the top shut itself down at around 2pm yesterday, apparently due to a fault in its safety system. 
All afternoon until nightfall the 35 people in each of the two cabins were rescued first, after firemen, police, park rangers and helicopters had been called in to help with an abseiling system to get the trapped tourists down from the cabins suspended at about 150 feet above the ground.
One by one tourists were lowered to safety during a four hour rescue operation. Each one was placed in a harness and then dropped through the hatch of the cable car. There were no injuries but some of those rescued needed treatment for shock and altitude sickness.
Of the couple of hundred people at the top station who had been waiting to come down many were able to walk down the steep rocky slope to the base station with the help of the emergency services, but many elderly and families with children had to face a very cold night near the top at about 3.500 metres altitude as night was approaching. They were supplied with warm clothing, blankets and food. About fifty members of the emergency services including psychologists stayed with those trapped at the upper cable car station overnight. At first light today the rescue of the 103 adults and 8 children has begun with those able to walk being guided down the mountain, and the remainder being flown out with helicopters.
The reason why the cable car system's emergency stop was triggered automatically is not known yet, and as initial inspections have not revealed any mechanical faults, the company operating the cable car has stated that the cabins had not been in danger at any time.

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