'Air Surgery' Saves 110 Trapped in Cable Cars Overnight
Tangled cables stopped the cars initially
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 9, 2016 6:39 AM CDT
A helicopter hovers near the trapped cars in France.   (Luca Bruno)

(Newser) – Dozens of tourists, including a 10-year-old child, were safely rescued Friday after being trapped in cable cars dangling above the slopes of Mont Blanc in the Alps overnight. The mountain rescue service in the French city of Chamonix says cables entangled Thursday were repaired, and the cable cars were able to resume operation Friday morning, per the AP. The travelers were brought to Chamonix and the Italian town of Courmayeur. A series of cable cars got stuck after the cables tangled at 3,600 meters altitude, prompting a major rescue operation. The interior minister says 65 people were rescued Thursday night, but 45 had to be left there overnight because of rough flight conditions for helicopters and darkness.

"We were there almost 10 hours in the cable car," says a tourist from Michigan rescued Thursday. "The helicopter rescue failed because the fog moved in, so we had to just wait." Rescuers then concentrated on bringing down people whose cable cars were closest to the ground. Five rescuers stayed overnight in the cable cars and provided blankets, food, and water before helicopters resumed the operation. They had to lower a rescuer onto an area "not larger than a table," strap on passengers one by one, and extract them, in a kind of "air surgery," a rescuer says. The number of people in 36 cable cars spread over three miles "in the heart of one of the largest glaciers in Europe" made the operation "simply unbelievable," he adds.