Chopper knocks Austrian gondola off cables, killing nine

Wednesday, September 7, 2005

On Monday, a helicopter accidentally dropped a concrete block weighing nearly 1,500 pounds when it was flying it up to an Austrian mountain for a "ski resort construction project". The concrete block struck a cable holding a gondola, the one that suffered all of the casualties, although other gondolas reported people suffering injuries from the jolt. The car that was hit fell quite some distance to the ground, up to hundreds of meters. Two more cars started tilting as some people were flung out from these cars.

A least nine people are reported to be killed in the incidents. There are also many injured, some of them seriously. Up to a dozen rescue helicopters immediately rushed to the scene from all over the Swiss alps.

The work was made to make the infrastructure more secure after an incident that happened when a low-flying US marine plane cut through a cable killing 20 people in 1998. This incident will bring into question if those policies saved lives or need to be recast in light of this tragedy.