London - Around 60 tourists were stranded on Thursday night in cable cars buffeted by high winds in the Alps after a mechanical failure.
A rescue operation began when 110 people were trapped as a result of cables becoming crossed on the panoramic route close to Mont Blanc.
But despite the best efforts of French, Italian and Swiss rescue services, only 50 people could be evacuated in Chamonix before the winds caused the operation to be suspended for the night.
Local media reported that water, food and survival blankets were distributed to those still stranded in the cable cars between Aiguille du Midi station in France and Punta Helbronner, Italy.
The cable cars were at an altitude of 12 468ft (3 800m), the prefect of the Haute-Savoie region, Georges-Francois Leclerc, said.
The problem was caused by cables that became crossed for “unknown reasons” around 2pm on Thursday, although Italian news reports blamed high winds for the malfunction.
Mathieu Dechavanne, chief of the company that manages the cable cars, said a rescue operation, including three helicopters from Switzerland, France and Italy, will be undertaken “that will take some time but the weather is good”.
The cable cars carry four passengers each and offer spectacular views of Mont Blanc.
Frederic Maurer, 49, one of the first people to be rescued, with his son and daughter, said: “We were in the cab for two-and-a-half hours locked under the sun. We had just started from the Italian side, when everything froze.”