Trapped tourists rescued from cable cars in Tenerife

Dramatic rescue of tourists on Tenerife's Mount Teide

Dozens of tourists were evacuated by helicopter Thursday from shelters at the top of a volcano on Spain's Tenerife island where they spent the night after being plucked from two cable cars that stopped mid-air.

A total of 111 people, including eight children, were forced to stay at three shelters on Mount Teide, the highest mountain in Spain and a major tourist attraction, cable car company Teleferico del Teide said in a statement.

They included tourists who became trapped in two cable cars that stopped working mid-air on Wednesday roughly 60 metres (200 feet) from the ground, as well as visitors who were already at the top of the volcano and were waiting to get down.

Helicopters, firemen, and park rangers were called in to help with a pulley system to get about 70 tourists who were trapped in the cable cars back to the ground during a four-hour rescue operation.

Each was placed in a harness and then lowered through a hatch of the cable car.

Many of the tourists who were plucked from the cable cars made it to the base station of the volcano at an altitude of 2,356 metres (7,700 feet) on foot despite the rocky terrain, but those with reduced mobility spent the night at the shelters.

Four helicopters evacuated the tourists, many wearing shorts and sandals, from the shelters on Thursday to the base station, an AFP photographer at the scene said.

Rescuers also escorted tourists by foot to the base station, where medical staff and psychologists were waiting.

"There is no serious injury, some people were dizzy, had high blood pressure, some scrapes, light injuries," a local emergency services spokeswoman said.

The tourists who spent the night at the shelters had food and water and were accompanied by emergency services staff, he added.

The authorities did not provide details regarding the nationalities of the tourists who became trapped but the AFP photographer said the majority were foreigners, including Australian and British citizens.

The peak of Mount Teide, located in the heart of Tenerife in the archipelago of the Canary Islands, is over 3,700 metres high, offering spectacular views of the island and the stars.

The cable car takes visitors up almost to the summit, although the last stretch must be done on foot. It will remain closed until Saturday.