The owner and operator of a stricken cable car that dangled over a Pakistan ravine for more than 12 hours have been arrested after repeatedly ignoring safety warnings, police said Thursday.
Six teenage boys were among eight people left stranded hundreds of feet in the air when two of the three chairlift cables snapped on Tuesday, leading to a daring rescue mission that brought them to safety.
"The cables being utilised were of subpar quality, and the machines were also in need of overhauling," Tahir Ayub Khan, a senior police official in northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, told AFP.
"The initial notice was issued to the owner in June, followed by a second notification served in August."
Both the cable car operator and the owner have been arrested, Khan said.
Meanwhile the specialist zipliners who were drafted in to lead the rescue mission have been hailed as heroes by the country's caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar.
Muhammad Ali Swati, the owner of a zipline adventure company, and his colleague Muhammad Ilyas used the cable keeping the gondola from plunging into the valley as a zipline to bring six of the group to safety.
"The most significant obstacle we encountered was the absence of light. The wind pressure was also quite high," Swati told AFP at a reception at the prime minister's office on Thursday.
"The children were petrified, screaming at me and pleading not to approach, fearing that my weight could cause the gondola to descend."
A military helicopter had brought the first child to safety, while a separate zipline company rescued another.
The six children had been on their way to school accompanied by two adults when the chairlift broke down Tuesday morning midway through its journey above the remote Allai Valley.
"Some of the children were so frustrated and were considering to jump down, but the elder passenger gave us confidence," 15-year-old Rizwan Ullah told AFP on Wednesday.
"When the cable car was twisting, we were terrified and we started reciting the Koran and gave confidence to each other not to jump down."
Cable cars that carry passengers -- and sometimes even cars -- are common across the northern areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and Gilgit-Baltistan, and are vital in connecting villages and towns in areas where roads cannot be built.
Kakar has issued a directive for all chairlifts in mountainous areas to be inspected and for those that are not "safety compliant" to be immediately closed.
In 2017, 10 people were killed when a chairlift cable broke, sending passengers plunging into a ravine in a mountain hamlet near the capital Islamabad.