Ski Bummed

Chairlift Tower collapses stranding a dozen skiers

WHISTLER, British Columbia -- At least a dozen passengers were trapped inside two dangling gondolas at Canada's Whistler ski resort Tuesday after a tower partially collapsed.

Police said there were no serious injuries in the accident about 2:30 p.m. local time. But the passengers remained stranded as emergency officials worked on a plan to evacuate them from the gondolas on the Excalibur lift.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Sgt. Steve Wright said the fire department was trying to reach the gondolas, which remained attached to the cable that moves the cars up and down the mountain. Pictures taken by a witness showed at least one of the gondola's being reached by firefighters.

Wright said a third gondola was left resting on top of a bus shelter at the base of the mountain. The accident took place near Fitzsimmons Creek, between Whistler and Blackcomb mountains, he said.

"No gondolas have fallen. It's just the tower has collapsed partially. The line has sagged," Wright said. "That's why right now we only have two gondola cars affected."

Wright said a truck was supporting the tower to keep it from falling any further.

Health officials said at least three people have been taken to hospital, but there were no serious injuries.

Jordan McDonald, a bystander, said one of his friends was in a gondola that hit the ground and rolled over.

"His head was all bashed up," McDonald told CTV Newsnet. "He walked away from it. He'll be OK, but a couple other people were hurt worse."

The resort will play host to the alpine events at the 2010 Winter Games.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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