At least eight people were injured when a malfunctioning ski lift hurled people from their seats at the Georgian ski resort of Gudauri on Friday, March 16, local media reported.
According to the Telegraph, skiers were being ferried downhill at the resort, located in the Caucasus mountains in the former Soviet republic of Georgia, when the lift began to speed up, out of control.
Video shot by people next to the lift, posted on social media, showed skiers jumping or falling from the carriages, as horrified onlookers shouted in panic.
The lift appeared to be moving backward dangerously fast, leading to a pile-up of broken and twisted chairs at the lift’s starting point.
Multiple tourists captured the incident on video from different perspectives, showing people trying to leap to safety or being catapulted into the air as the lift chairs rounded the lower pulley.
As damaged chairs piled up, some skiers told CNN that they had to jump from the lift to avoid being crushed.
Yuri Leontyev, a skier from Belarus, filmed people being thrown off the lift.
“The ski lift stopped and started going in reverse,” he told CNN. “We had to jump from it, because at the bottom (of the hill) it was total trash and no chance to stay safe.”
Iryna Iadak, from Ukraine, was on the lift with her boyfriend.
“The movement of the lift stopped and a minute later we drove back,” she told CNN. “The speed increased, it was out of control. The lift could not be stopped. People began to jump from different altitudes, panic began. Many did not manage to jump off and were thrown out from the impact.”
A pregnant woman from Sweden and a tourist from Ukraine were seriously injured in the incident, according to RT, citing Georgian Health Minister David Sergeenko. The woman reportedly sustained a back injury while the man suffered an open arm fracture.
Eyewitness Peter Knyshov shared a video of the incident, RT reported, and wrote about it on social media.
“People who fell under the ‘meat grinder’ after the chairs collided received numerous injuries,” Knyshov wrote on Facebook, RT reported.
According to Knyshov, the technicians managed to switch off the cableway two minutes after it went out of control and emergency responders arrived seven or eight minutes later.
An investigation has reportedly been launched by the Georgian Interior Ministry.