GILGIT: An old and rusting chairlift crashed into the Indus River in Gilgit-Baltistan region on Sunday, killing all eight people on board.
The improvised chairlift – locally called Ga’raari – was built after the 2010 epic floods had swept away the lone bridge which connected Gaise Valley with the strategic Karakoram Highway.
“The chairlift was overloaded. It crashed into the river after the metallic rope it was mounted on snapped,” Basharat Khan, a resident of Gaise Valley told The Express Tribune. “All eight people on board drowned in the river,” he added.
Police confirmed the fatalities and said a Rescue 1122 team was trying to fish out the bodies.
Ga’raari was dangerously suspended by a 100-metre rope over the Indus River. Locals had complained umpteen times about the dilapidated state of the device and demanded that the bridge be rebuilt.
Then prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, had also ordered the authorities to rebuild the bridge – but his directives had fallen on deaf ears.
Three officials, among them executive engineer Muhammad Gayoor, have been suspended for negligence, said Bashir Ahmed, the G-B minister for works who is a resident of Daimer district, of which Gaise is a part.
“We have ordered an inquiry,” he told a news conference after the tragedy. “The chairlift could carry only four persons. And it crashed because it was overloaded.”
About the damaged bridge, Ahmed said it would be completed soon as 80% of work has been done.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 16th, 2012.
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