Mid-air rescue for German cable car passengers

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Media captionThe passengers were lifted to safety after their 18-hour ordeal

Helicopters have plucked to safety 20 people stranded in mid-air on a cable car in southern Germany after a paraglider collided with the cables.

The 19 passengers and conductor were brought to safety after spending 18 hours suspended 80m (260ft) above the ground at Mt Tegelberg in Bavaria.

Rescuers supplied food and blankets, and toys for six children aboard, while waiting for strong winds to die down.

They also freed the paraglider and his tandem passenger.

The head of the cable car operator, Tegelbergbahn, said he was shocked the paraglider had apparently tried to cross the cables.

Pilots knew they were only allowed to fly parallel to them, Franz Bucher said, according to the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper.

It was not immediately clear if the pilot would face charges.

Nine flights

Mt Tegelberg is close to the fairy-tale castle of Neuschwanstein, one of the country's top visitor attractions, and those aboard the cable car were said to be tourists.

Most of them were Germans and they included two east Europeans. They ranged in age from four to 75.

Image caption Rescued passengers included small children

When the paraglider's parachute became tangled in the cables on Friday, visitors were left stranded in three groups

  • Twenty in the car at 80m
  • Thirty in a second car closer to the ground
  • About 130 at the station on the mountain itself

Those on the mountain were also brought to safety by helicopter while the occupants of the second car were apparently rescued by climbing teams later on Friday.

However, the evacuation of the first car could only proceed on Saturday morning, requiring nine helicopter flights over two hours.

A photo gallery on Bavarian radio's German-language website shows various helicopters delivering people to safety.

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