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 Monday, 20 January, 2003, 08:08 GMT
Probe into Gujarat cable car tragedy
An investigation has been ordered into a cable car accident in western India on Sunday in which seven people were killed and more than 20 injured.

The cable carrying the cars up to a hilltop temple in Gujarat state snapped, causing three cars to fall.

Rescue after cable car accident at Pawagadh
The rescue lasted seven hours
Indian air force commandos and firefighters later rescued 37 people who were trapped in six cars left dangling between two hills.

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi ordered an official inquiry on Monday.

A government spokesman said they would wait for a report from a team of forensic experts who were visiting the crash site.

Temple trip

The cable way carries devotees to a temple at Pawagadh, about 140 kilometres (90 miles) south of Ahmedabad, the commercial capital of Gujarat.

Godhra district police chief Narsinh Komar, quoted by the Associated Press news agency, said the air force commandos plucked the trapped people to safety after helicopters lowered ropes over the cars.

The goddess Durga
The victims were on their way to pray to the goddess Durga

At least 22 injured people were rushed to hospital in Vadodara, 65 kilometres (40 miles) away.

Four passengers died at the scene and three succumbed to their injuries later.

Crowds travel to the temple daily to offer prayers to the Hindu goddess Durga.

Cable car accidents are relatively rare.

In 1999, a cable car crashed at the French Alpine resort of Saint-Etienne en Devoluy, killing at least 20 people on board.

It fell 80 metres on to rocks and was smashed into fragments.

The following year, some 40 passengers in Brazil escaped unhurt from a broken cable car suspended halfway up Rio de Janeiro's famous Sugar Loaf mountain.

The group, most of them foreign tourists from Japan, the US and Canada, spent more than an hour hanging about 200 metres above the ground.

See also:

01 Jul 99 | In Depth
01 Jul 99 | Europe
09 Feb 01 | Europe
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