Forty-four skiers, including children, have been rescued by helicopter after becoming trapped on a broken-down chair lift for two hours in a ski resort in the Pyrenees.
A breakdown on February 7, at the Cambre d’Aze ski station near Saint-Pierre-dels-Forcats (Pyrénées-Orientales) caused the holidaymakers to become stuck, hanging more than 10 metres off the ground.
When the chair lift could not be restarted, staff “immediately triggered the procedure provided for in our operating procedures and called our air rescue teams", said Jacques Alvarez, director of ski transport Altiservice.
Carole Jamin, one of the skiers who was trapped and rescued, told BFMTV: “They came by helicopter, and the rescuers attached us with harnesses and lowered us to the piste. It felt like it took a long time, but I think they did their best, as quickly as they could. It was impressive.”
#NosInterventions❄️ "Quand te reverrai-je, pays merveilleux ?" Soulagement pour les 44 skieurs bloqués cet après-midi sur un télésiège de la station de Saint-Pierre del Forcats et secourus par l'équipage du #Dragon 66, les sapeurs-pompiers du @SDIS66 et les gendarmes du @PGHM__. pic.twitter.com/90Zz0G9SlW— Sécurité Civile (@SecCivileFrance) February 7, 2022
The rescue required eight piste workers, around 12 gendarmes from mountain rescue team the peloton de haute montagne (PGHM) d’Osséja, and the dangerous areas rescue team GRIMP (groupe de recherche et d’intervention en milieu périlleux).
Major Eddie Marty, from the PGHM, told BFMTV that the successful evacuation underlined the importance of joint training exercises across mountain rescue teams.
He said: “Working with several people who are not part of the same group [emergency team] is always complicated, but it went extremely well in this case. We all know each other from doing joint exercises, and we saw the benefit of all these exercises during this incident.”
No one was injured in the incident.
The chair lift was repaired on Monday evening and is now back in normal operation.