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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 July 2006, 21:25 GMT 22:25 UK
'We could feel the car swinging'
The fallen car
Emergency services rushed to the site of the fallen gondola car
Those caught up in the Ben Nevis cable car drama have told of their fear as mountain carriages ground to a halt and swung dangerously above the hillside.

One car, or gondola as they are known, derailed and slid back down the cable and hit another which then crashed to the ground.

The accident happened at the Nevis Range ski resort near Fort William in the Highlands on Thursday afternoon.

All five people who were in the fallen car are being treated in hospital.

At one point, 75 people were trapped due to the failure of the gondola system.

I saw the cable come off one of the gondolas, and it looked like it was almost horizontal
Erick Degouw

Ilja Kultman, 32, and her friend Susanne Talens, 33, from Ballinakill in Ireland, were holidaying in Scotland and were two gondolas behind the car which came detached.

"We just felt the whole thing swinging - it was quite frightening," said Miss Kultman.

Miss Talens added: "You don't expect to come on holiday and have something like this happen."

The two women, who are originally from Holland, were stuck in the gondola for three and a half hours.

Miss Kultman said: "We tried to sing songs, but we were quite scared. I am just glad to have my feet back on the ground."

'Terrible shock'

Miss Kultman's boyfriend, Erick Degouw, was cycling down the hillside with a friend when he noticed something was wrong with one of the gondolas.

"I looked back and saw one of them was swinging from left to right - I knew then something was wrong," he said.

"Then I saw the cable come off one of the gondolas, and it looked like it was almost horizontal."

Mr Degouw immediately phoned his girlfriend to find out if she was all right.

"I just thank technology that I was able to call straight away," he added.

Walking wounded
Mountain rescue teams helped the walking wounded off the mountain

Eyewitness Paul Goddard ran from the top station to where the injured had fallen.

He said: "I heard the noise of a crash, we turned around and saw somebody falling from the gondola. We ran down from the top of the hill to where the accident had happened.

"There was a young kid, who was three-years-old, on the ground next to her mum and there was also an older gentleman on the ground."

Another passenger, Nan Rennie, 58, from Edinburgh, said: "There are some people inside that are in terrible shock because they saw what happened and they had to wait where they were and watch what went on."

Ms Rennie arrived down off Aonach Mor after a four-hour ordeal. She told how the gondola jolted to a halt as it neared the top station.

She said: "I was just arriving at the top when it stopped and the doors didn't open. I saw a man come running in and start shouting. He was very agitated.

"My gondola car went into the station and the door opened. I could see the man going up and down a ladder, I could see something was wrong and thought I'd better get out."

Ms Rennie then had to wait at the top before she was able to get back down.

Northern Constabulary said a full police investigation had been launched into the incident.

In Pictures: Cable car accident
13 Jul 06 |  In Pictures
People injured in cable car crash
13 Jul 06 |  Scotland

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