A ski lift in the country of Georgia malfunctioned on Friday, March 16, causing several injuries. The Sadzele ski lift started moving backwards at a high speed and several riders on the lift were thrown off. Nearly one dozen people were injured, but they are all expected to be okay.
The accident happened in Gudauri, Georgia, at a resort near the Greater Caucasus Mountain Range, according to Sports Illustrated. Initial video of the incident was posted on social media by Instagram user Alena Pakhomova. Several other witnesses have since uploaded videos from the frightening accident, each showing a different angle of riders being tossed from the lift.
As you can see in the video above, ski lift riders were taken down the hill in reverse and were thrown from their benches as they rounded the bottom corner. While some riders were able to jump off before reaching the bottom, others were flung from the lift, their bodies tossed up in the area and landing in the snow below. For many, the videos of the accident are hard to watch.
Many of those who were injured suffered relatively minor injuries. According to the Telegraph, only two people needed additional medical attention from hospital staff. One person, a man from the Ukraine, suffered a broken hand and has “a small head injury.” The extend of that injury is unclear. A second person, a woman from Sweden, is pregnant “and feels pain in her waist.” Further updates on her condition has not been made available.
Onlookers watched in panic, unable to help those who were on the lift at the time of the malfunction. A couple of people spoke with the media after the accident.
“The speed increased, it was out of control,” Iryna Iadak of the Ukraine told CNN. “The lift could not be stopped. People began to jump from different altitudes, panic began. Many did not manage to jump off and were thrown out from the impact,” she added.
“The ski lift stopped and started going in reverse,” rider Yuri Leontyev of Belarus told CNN. “We had to jump from it, because at the bottom [of the hill] it was total trash and no chance to stay safe.”
It is unclear what caused the ski lift to start moving backwards and at a faster pace. An investigation has been launched.
“Georgia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs confirmed emergency ski patrols were quickly dispatched to the scene and a helicopter helped transport injured parties to hospital. An investigation to establish what happened has been launched under Article 275 of Georgia’s Criminal Code which deals with safety violations and the operation of railway, water, air or cable traffic movement,” the Telegraph reports.
You can see another view of the ski lift malfunctioning in the video below.
“Our employees are already on their way to Gudauri. At the moment we have no detailed information,” a spokesperson from the resort told the Telegraph following the incident.