The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Rush to get rid of ropeway reservation

Darjeeling, Oct. 19: Ticket in hand and waiting his turn to board the cable car at Singamari, Dhawani Rawal of Baroda watched in disbelief as one of the gondolas rocked in mid-air before hurtling down and crashing into the tea garden below.

“I thank my stars for having come to the cable car station late,” he said.

Babu, a youth from Chennai, feels the same way, but not because he arrived late. He was on the cable car yesterday and he does not have fond memories. “I felt six persons in each car was too much. We were swaying a lot and there was a bump when we went over the rollers on the towers. I was really scared,” he recalled.

The breathtaking view of the Kanchunjungha and bird’s eye view of the Queen of Hills that the Darjeeling Rangit Valley Ropeway offered made it one of the most popular tourist attractions. Until today.

“I still cannot not believe that the accident actually happened. I watched as the cars fell. Then the power was switched off. I understand how harrowing it must have been for the people left dangling 100 feet above ground, waiting for help to arrive,” Rawal said. “Nothing can make me get into one of those contraptions again.”

Rawal is not the only one left shaken. No tourist wants to ride the cable car. Tour operators have been flooded with requests to cancel the visit to the ropeway from the tour itinerary.

“My heart goes out to the family members of the dead and the injured. Though I came to take a ride, I felt so bad that I could not bear to stand there and watch the tragedy unfold before my eyes, I returned to my hotel,” said Ajay Veghela, a retired banker from Ahmedabad.

“An accident can never be averted but people do not come to Darjeeling just for the cable car,” said Pradip Lama, secretary of the association for travel agents.

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