Tourists airlifted to safety after cable car gets stuck in French Alps

Dozens of terrified tourists had to abseil to safety or be airlifted by helicopter from cable cars in the French resort of Grenoble, after they became stuck in high winds.

The five cars were carrying 37 people down from the hillside Bastille fortress to the centre of the Alpine city on Sunday night when a sudden violent gust pushed them out of the drive mechanism and left them hanging in the air for three hours.

Dramatic television footage showed some of the passengers, including small children, scrambling out of the glass cabins before being lifted up into a hovering helicopter. Others had to abseil down to the ground.

Passengers fretted that the cables might break before the rescue team could extricate them.

"We were a bit scared, but it all went quite fast," one passenger named as Christian told BFM-TV.

"We were thinking, 'Will the cables hold? Or are we going to end up on the ground?'" said his wife Caroline.

No one was injured in the incident on the cable car system, which was first opened in 1934 and which transports 260,000 tourists a year. This was the first serious incident since the current cable cars were put into service in 1976.

A year ago, about 200 tourists had to be rescued by helicopter after their cable car to the summit of Mont Blanc broke down and burst into flames.

The Telegraph, London