A ski gondola carrying a Danish family of four plunged 23 feet to the ground at a ski resort in the Austrian Alps Tuesday, leaving everyone onboard with serious injuries.
The accident happened at the Hochoetz resort in Tyrol province in the late morning, when a tree apparently fell onto the cable supporting the gondola, causing it to crash to the ground.
Because the cable car landed in a rocky and inaccessible terrain, rescuers were forced to hoist the victims to safety using a rope dangling from a hovering helicopter.
Three of the gondola occupants were hospitalized with serious injuries in the town of Zams, and one was airlifted to a hospital in Innsbruck in critical condition.
Austrian outlets reported that the four victims were Danish citizens.
They were described as a man aged 49; his children, a 20-year-old man and a 19-year-old woman, and their 46-year-old uncle.
A German couple, aged 62 and 58, who occupied the next gondola were also hurt because of the vibrations of the cable, police commander Hubert Juen told the Austria Press Agency.
Their conditions were unknown.
Juen told the Austrian news website Kurier that the German nationals “are in such shock that they haven’t been able to be interviewed yet.”
Experts are still trying to determine how the crash happened, but “nothing points to a technical or human failure,” Juen said.
The commander said that either a tree or branches landed directly on the part of the Danish family’s gondola that attached it to the cable, according to Kurier.
The operators of the cable car route, known as the Acherkogelbahn, said nothing of the ordinary had been noticed during a test run of the gondolas early Tuesday
The other 60 cable cars that were in circulation at the time of the accident were brought down safely, before the route was temporarily closed.
With Post wires