110 people stuck in cable cars at Mont Blanc in Alps

PARIS — A series of cable cars stopped working at high altitude over the Mont Blanc massif in the Alps on Thursday, prompting a major rescue operation and leaving 45 people trapped in midair overnight, France’s interior minister said.

Four helicopters were deployed after 110 people became stuck when the cable cars stalled because of a ‘‘technical incident,’’ Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said. The helicopters rescued 65 people before the efforts were suspended for the night because of rough flight conditions.

First aid workers will be spending the night in the cable cars with those who are trapped, Cazeneuve said. Rescuers provided blankets, food, and water.


A local police official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that the incident happened in ‘‘late afternoon’’ in the panoramic Vallee Blanche Cable Car that rises to an altitude of 12,395 feet.

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Chamonix Mayor Eric Fournier said earlier in the day that ‘‘there’s nothing fundamentally to fear’’ adding, on BFM-TV, that Italian authorities were helping with the rescue.

The cable cars connect the famed Aiguille du Midi peak to the Pointe Helbronner. The trip takes 30-35 minutes.

They offer spectacular up-close views of Western Europe’s tallest mountains, glaciers, and steep valleys deep below.

Associated Press