Seventy people had to be lowered 30 metres from the suspended cars, via the evacuation system, which comprised a clamping system and rope, with assistance from firemen and Guardia Civil officers.
Both cable cars were full when they came to a halt, and, initially, some 256 people were isolated between them and the station at the top of Teide.
An “important rescue operation” was mounted to recover all those trapped, with numerous emergency resources ensuring the safety of everyone affected.
But sources from the company managing the cable cars had no idea of what caused the security system to kick in and put the brakes on.
A total of 111 people occupied three shelters overnight on Teide’s summit, accompanied by security professionals.
In addition, a group of 52 adults and three minors were stranded at the summit’s cable-car station, while another 40, mostly with reduced mobility, spent the night in the Altavista Refuge with medical staff.
And another 16 people, including five minors, stayed in the concrete shed under the cable cars’ Tower 2.
The shelters were able to provide dinner and breakfast, according to Nazaret Díaz, general director of Emergency and Security.
All the people evacuated from the cable car, which was heading up, descended to its base station.
Those rescued from the other cable car were split into two groups, with some ascending 800m to the summit station and the others dropping to the base station.
Each person came down at his or her own pace because of the rough terrain. And there was more drama for many because night fell during their descent, as did the temperature, to nearly zero degrees. But with no torches, they utilised their mobile phones to light the way.
Fortunately, three helicopters were able to carry most of the 111 tourists who spent the night at high altitude back down the mountain, despite the poor weather.
Many of them had been airlifted by midday, while a small group walked down from Teide, accompanied by rescue workers, said Lourdes Jorge, a spokeswoman from the Emergency and Security service.
The cable-car system will stay closed until tomorrow (Saturday).
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