INTERLAKEN, Switzerland – One person was killed and several others were injured when lift chairs carrying skiers fell to the ground in an accident near the Alpine ski resort of Grindelwald, officials said Thursday.
A man died and a woman suffered serious injuries in the accident after a cable apparently jumped off a guidewheel at one of the chairlift's support towers that rise up to 46 feet from the slopes, according to an official in charge of the investigation.
Several other people received minor injuries, Joseph Zeder of the independent investigation bureau for railway, funicular and boat accidents, told The Associated Press. Further details about the victims were not immediately available.
The remaining 75 passengers still on the chairlift had to be evacuated from the ground as high winds made the use of helicopters too dangerous, according to mountain rescue officials. When a chairlift malfunctions, helicopters are often used to lift trapped passengers to safety.
The national weather center said winds reached speeds of 56 miles per hour when the accident occurred at about 1 p.m. on the Kleine-Scheidegg pass above Grindelwald, one of Switzerland's best-known tourist destinations.
About 37 miles southeast of the capital Bern, the town and its surrounding mountains — which include the imposing Eiger, Moench and Jungfrau peaks — draw in tens of thousands of visitors each year.