By Haq Nawaz Khan, Victoria Bisset, Shaiq Hussain and Sarah Dadouch
Pakistan's military has rescued eight people, six children and two adults, who spent hours stuck in agonising danger in a cable car suspended at least 900 feet (about 274m) in the air, after a cable snapped above a remote mountainous area in the north of the country.
The army's Special Service Group rescued two children via helicopter by means of a sling lowered from above, a local official and a spokesperson for the provincial emergency services said.
The rest were rescued in a ground-based effort, after the helicopter approach became too dangerous, using a chairlift edged along the intact cable, according to media reports.
The first helicopter rescue took four attempts, said Bilal Faizi, spokesperson for the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region's 1122 rescue service.
A second child was then rescued by the same method, the National Disaster Management Authority said in a statement.
Later in the evening, Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar, the country's caretaker prime minister, announced that all children aboard had been rescued.
He thanked the military and local rescue workers for their efforts. Authorities confirmed that the two adults had been rescued as well.
Rescuers began looking into alternative methods after two military helicopters sent to rescue the group started to further destabilize the dangling car on approach, a military official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity in keeping with official policy.
Wind and another cable about 30 feet above the stranded car complicated the manoeuvre.
As conditions worsened and sunlight began to wane in the late afternoon, helicopter operations were suspended and ground operations began, the official said.
Work began to bring a second cable car close to the stranded group along the intact cable from which the car remained suspended, the official added.
Food, water and medicine were passed to those trapped, using a small lift affixed to the same cable, according to a second official, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity as a matter of policy.
A photograph distributed by the Agence France-Presse news agency showed a soldier descending from a helicopter to attempt the initial rescues.
The medicine, the official said, was intended to stabilise the children before carrying them up.
The group was travelling across the ravine on Tuesday morning in Battagram, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, when the incident took place.
One of the passengers in the car fainted during the ordeal, Shariq Riaz Khattak, a rescue official at the scene, told Reuters.
The children were using the car, which some officials called a chairlift, to get to school in a mountainous area about 125 miles north of the capital, Islamabad, the agency reported.
Rescue teams tried at first to spread nets under the cable car, an official from the area, Jawad Hussain, told Pakistan's Dawn newspaper.
He said locals organised and used the privately owned cable car because of the lack of roads and bridges in the area.
Kakar described the incident as it unfolded as "really alarming."
He posted on X, formerly Twitter, that he had ordered authorities "to urgently ensure safe rescue and evacuation of the 8 people stuck in the chairlift."
He also said he has ordered safety inspections of all chairlifts.