Dramatic footage has shown people being winched down from cable cars after being stranded up a mountain overnight on New Year’s Eve.
Twenty-one people were rescued on Saturday after becoming trapped in gondola cars on the Sandia Peak Tramway in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
The operator of the US’s longest suspended tramway said it had to halt operations at the ski resort on Friday night because of “severe icing due to the moisture and cold temperature that affected the emergency cable”.
Two cars had been carrying tramway employees and people who had been working at the Ten 3 restaurant at the top of the tramway – a 10,378ft (3,163m) elevation – on New Year’s Eve.
New Mexico Search and Rescue said it was informed of the stranded passengers just before 3am on New Year’s Day and it then took rescuers several hours to hike to the site and determine an evacuation plan.
Incident commander Spenser Moreland said responders provided the passengers with food, water and blankets.
Twenty people in one car were lowered to the ground by rope and then evacuated by helicopter, with fire officials saying they had all been rescued by 1pm.
There was also one tram employee stuck alone in the second car. They were “safely at base” just before 4pm, the Bernalillo County fire department said.
Authorities said high winds and poor visibility hampered the rescue.
“This is not something that we hadn’t kind of planned on at some point,” said Bernalillo County undersheriff Larry Koren.
“We’ve done a lot of training with all of our search and rescue stakeholders here in the past regarding the tram operations.”
The tramway usually takes 15 minutes to get passengers to the top of Sandia Peak, New Mexico’s first ski resort.
There are numerous safety and back-up systems on the tramway, which replaced its two cars in 2016.
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