Ski lifts are supposed to add convenience and comfort to the popular winter activity … but in the country of Georgia, a lift just led to a scene of chaos and terror.
On Friday, a resort in northeast Georgia — a small country that shares a border with Russia — turned into a nightmare after a powered lift apparently malfunctioned and went out of control.
“Skiers were being transported down a hill at the Gudauri resort, located on the plateau of The Greater Caucasus Mountain Range in the former Soviet republic, when the out of control lift suddenly began picking up speed,” The U.K. Telegraph reported.
An eyewitness named Alena Pakhomova managed to capture the mayhem on camera, and posted a video of the situation to Instagram. The footage showed skiers riding the lift being flung off violently, while onlookers yelled frantically for other riders to jump off.
GRAPHIC CONTENT WARNING: THE FOLLOWING VIDEOS CONTAIN CONTENT THAT SOME VIEWERS MAY FIND DISTURBING
“Georgia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs confirmed emergency ski patrols were quickly dispatched to the scene and a helicopter helped transport injured parties to hospital,” The Telegraph stated. The U.K. newspaper estimated that 10 people had been injured, but no fatalities had been reported.
A Georgian health official named David Sergeenko told media that visitors from several different countries had been wounded.
“Among the injured are Swedish and Ukrainian citizens,” explained Sergeenko.
“One of the injured, a Ukrainian citizen, broke his hand during the incident, and has a small head injury, while a Swedish citizen is pregnant and feels pain in her waist,” he continued.
The extent of the other injuries was not known.
A different video from further away from the lift revealed that many riders knew that they were going too fast, but were unable to jump from their seats due to the height.
While it’s clear from the video that the lift malfunctioned in some way, the company responsible for the unit could not provide specific answers about what happened.
“Our employees are already on their way to Gudauri,” a spokesperson for the Austrian Doppelmayr Garaventa group said. “At the moment we have no detailed information.”
The Gudauri ski resort is located in the Greater Caucus Mountain Range, and is about 75 miles north of Georgia’s capital city. The location is at an altitude of over 7,000 feet above sea level.
According to The Telegraph, its ski season runs from December to April. There are reportedly 11 ski lifts at the resort. It’s not clear if more than one of those lifts were having problems.
While shocking, this video is an important reminder that emergency situations can arise at any time — including during activities that are supposed to be fun, not fearful.
It’s a smart idea to stay alert, aware and prepared for emergencies wherever they occur … whether it’s on an American highway or a vacation abroad.
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