(Video) Hundreds of tourists stranded mid-air in cable cars over Langkawi

GEORGE TOWN: Scores of holidaymakers had a harrowing time today when Langkawi's cable car system malfunctioned and left them dangling in their gondolas while suspended in mid-air.

The Fire and Rescue Department in Langkawi received a distress call at 5.48pm that the cable cars had malfunctioned, leaving hundreds of tourists and workers stranded.

Today is considered a peak period for the island resort due to the Lunar New Year celebrations.

As of 9pm, it is learnt that the cable car, which was commercially branded as Langkawi Skycab, had restarted service but it had taken time to get the passengers down from the suspended gondolas and from those stuck at the top and middle stations.

89 of the over 500 tourists who were stranded after the cable car broke down arrived at the base station at Oriental Village at about 9.30pm, according to Langkawi Development Authority (Lada) chief executive officer, Datuk Azizan Noordin.

“Another three cable cars carrying 18 tourists are on their way down after being stuck for about four hours between the middle station and the base station,” he told Bernama tonight.

He said the technical teams of Panorama Langkawi Sdn Bhd, a Lada subsidiary and operator of the cable car system, had to resort to manual efforts to mobilise the system to bring the cable cars down to the base station.

“A 12-man technical team accompanied by two Fire and Rescue Department personnel is already up at the middle station to replace a faulty bearing in the system, which had been the cause of the system to break down,” he added.

Azizan said as of 10pm, about 200 tourists were still stranded at the middle station, which is located about 650m above sea level and another 300 at the upper station, about 708m.

“InsyaAllah, once the restoration works had been carried out, the remainder could be brought down to the base station … hopefully, before midnight,” he told Bernama.

On the condition of the tourists who had arrived at the base station, he said there was one who had fainted but had regained consciousness before being brought to the Langkawi Hospital for observation.

“The rest were okay but tired, while some appeared to be a bit traumatic after being stranded inside a stalled cable car and hanging few hundred metres high for a couple of hours, but we are doing our best to comfort them and provide the necessary assistances,” said Azizan.

He said the cable car would cease operations for one day tomorrow to enable a thorough investigation into the incident.

Considered one of the top tourist attractions in Langkawi, the cable car links its base in the Oriental Village, a tourist retail centre, to the peak of Gunung Matchinchang, which is the highest mountain on the island.