03. 08. 12. - 12:45
Lightning strikes gondola stranding tourists
Some 150 people were left stranded after a lightning strike stopped the cable car transporting visitors to and from the Eisriesenwelt in Werfen, Austria.
The Eisriesenwelt, enormous ice caves where visitors can walk inside, is a popular tourist attraction. The cable car was stopped in the late afternoon.
"A heavy storm approached around 16.00" said Friedrich Oedl, the Managing Director of the Eisriesenwelt. We had to close the cable car as a safety measure. This is the norm in such cases.
"When we tried to switch on the gondola after the storm, we realized that lightning had struck the control unit," Oedl added.
Nobody was in the cable car when the storm happened.
The visitors who were already at the top were brought down the mountain in groups lead by guides form the caves. They had to climb down the in part steep path for around 500 metres.
"We suggested the walk down to our visitors. It takes around an hour and is the quickest way back to the valley."
A few elderly people and people with problems walking were taken with the gondola operating in an emergency mode.
All visitors were safely recovered from the mountain by 18.30 and were given food and drink once safely down.
One 30-year-old German tourist injured her left leg whilst making the descent. She was carried down the mountain via stretcher.
The gondola remains closed today whilst safety control checks are carried out.