Crews rescue 21 people from stranded streetcars in New Mexico


(AP) – New Mexico search and rescue teams on Saturday used ropes and helicopters to rescue 21 people stranded overnight in two streetcars after a frozen cable stranded cars in the Sandia Mountains above Albuquerque .

Lt. Robert Arguellas, spokesman for the Bernalillo County Fire Department, said early Saturday afternoon that teams first rescued 20 people stranded in a car and several hours later a 21st person stranded alone in a second car.

All of the people on both cars were employees of the Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway or a mountain top restaurant, and the 20 cars in one were hauled to the foot of the mountains at the end of their working day, said Arguellas.

The other employee was heading up the mountain to provide security overnight when the tram system shut down on Friday night due to icing, Arguellas said.

No injuries were reported among those stranded, Arguellas said. “Not just frustrated enough anymore.”

To rescue all 20 people in a single car, operators were able to move it to a nearby support tower more than halfway up the mountain, and search and rescue personnel early Saturday morning traveled to the area. and climbed the tower to deliver blankets and other supplies. to those inside the heated car, said Arguellas.

For several hours, search and rescue personnel used ropes and other equipment to lower stranded employees approximately 85 feet (26 meters) to the ground before escorting them to a nearby landing area on the steep, rocky terrain where the tower stood, Arguellas said.

The 20 people were then flown by helicopter several at a time to the foot of the mountains, he said.

Arguellas said the second car with the only employee on board was higher up the mountain and at a location where the car was too high above the ground to lower people with ropes.

But the tram system was able to lower the second car along the cable to the support tower rescue site, and rescuers then used ropes to lower the 21st person, as was done with the others. , said Arguellas.

Brian Coon, an official with the streetcar system, said there was an unusually rapid build-up of ice on one of the cables that caused it to sag under the streetcar, making the chase dangerous, reported KOB-TV.

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