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Children are trapped in the cable car for 5 hours

Six children and two adults hung in a cable car over a deep valley in Pakistan for several hours on Tuesday while a military helicopter hovered nearby.

The children were using the chairlift to cross the valley to get to school when a cable broke halfway up in a remote, mountainous part of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province at an altitude of up to 1,200 feet (about 365 meters).

“For God's sake help us,” Gulfraz, a man who got stuck in the cable car, told Pakistani TV station Geo News over the phone, confirming that eight people were on board.

“It's been almost five hours since we've been stuck in midair. The situation is so bad that one man has already passed out. A helicopter arrived but left without being called.”

The incident happened around 7:00 a.m. local time, with residents using the mosque's loudspeakers to alert neighborhood officials across the Allai Valley.

Anxious crowds have gathered on either side of the gorge, which is several hours from the nearest capital.

“The cable car is suspended from a single rope. “There are at least eight inmates, most of whom are school children,” Abdul Basit Khan, a senior provincial rescue agency official, told AFP.

Images broadcast on TV show a Pakistan Army helicopter circling near the nacelle, hanging over a deep gorge and surrounded by lush green mountains.

“The cable car is stuck in a place where it is almost impossible to help without a helicopter,” Zulfiqar Khan, an official with Pakistan's 1122 Ambulance Service, told AFP.

– ‘What can they do?' –

Principal Ali Asghar Khan told AFP by phone that the children were teenagers and students at his Battangi Pashto state high school.

“The school is in a mountainous area and there are no safe crossings, so it's common to use the chairlift,” Khan said.

“Parents are gathered at the chairlift location. What can they do? They are waiting for rescue workers to get their children out. We are all concerned.” Abid Ur Rehman, a teacher at another school in the area, said around 500 people had gathered to watch the rescue mission.

“The scenes here are filled with intense emotion, with parents and women crying for the safety of their children,” he told AFP.

Acting Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar issued an order to inspect all chairlifts in mountain areas and immediately close those that are not “safety compliant”.

The National Disaster Management Agency said in a statement that six children and two adults were aboard the cable car at an altitude of at least 900 feet.

Syed Hammad Haider, a senior Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) provincial official, said it hung about 1,000 to 1,200 feet above the ground.

“We asked the CP government to provide a helicopter because the relief operation is not possible without the help of a helicopter,” he said.

Cableways carrying passengers and sometimes cars are common in the northern areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province and Gilgit-Baltistan and are vital for connecting villages and towns in areas where roads cannot be built.

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