Sat, Mar 07, 2015 - Page 7 News List

Rescuers save skiers stuck inside cable cars in Italy

UNRELENTING WEATHER:Areas of the country have been hit with winds of up to 180kph, with a woman hit by a tree and a man killed by a rockfall as the first fatalities

AFP, ROME

About 200 holiday skiers in the Italian Dolomites were winched to safety on Thursday after getting stranded in cable car cabins buffeted by 130kph winds.

The Ciampinoi cable car in the popular Val Gardena resort ground to a halt after a huge tree was blown over onto the cable, local officials said.

HELICOPTER EVACUATION

Amid fears the cable could snap at any moment, mountain rescue experts and firefighters were lowered on to the cabins from helicopters.

They then quickly evacuated the skiers from about 20 different cabins using ropes, and succeeded in getting everyone off without any serious injuries.

CASUALTIES OF STORM

The drama came as stormy weather caused havoc across much of northern Italy, claiming at least two lives and causing the partial collapse of a much-admired 17th-century church bell tower at Cortona in Tuscany.

A woman was crushed by a falling tree in Urbino in the Emilia Romagna region, while a man died behind the wheel of his car when it was hit by a rockfall near Lucca, also in Tuscany.

Winds of up to 180kph tore through the Riviera region of Liguria. In the port city of Genoa, local authorities closed public spaces, including cemeteries, and banned motorbikes and scooters from circulating in some areas of the city.

In Tuscany, numerous schools shut their doors and ferry sailings to Sardinia were suspended, because of stormy sea conditions.

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