Sixty tourists will spend the night trapped in cable cars suspended in the French Alps after high winds caused a mechanical failure.

A huge rescue operation was launched after more than 100 people were trapped in panoramic cable cars suspended 50m in the air close to Mont Blanc in the Alps this afternoon.

French, Italian and Swiss rescue services used helicopters to evacuate 50 of the 110 sightseers stranded in Chamonix.

But as darkness fell, rescue services were unable to bring the other 60 to safety, meaning they will have to spend the night in the cabins.


Initial reports from the French-Italian border suggest strong winds made wires cross over halting the cars, but this has yet to be confirmed.

The cable connects the Aiguille du Midi station in France to the Italian Punta Helbronner.

It is thought the trapped tourists were suspended 3700m in the air.

The route attracts around half a million tourists each year.

Italian news service reports that strong winds may have caused the cable cars to stop.

The winds may have made the wires which support the cabin cars cross over.

Eric Fornier, the Mayor of Chamonix, told BFMTV that rescuers, supported by their Italian counterparts, are working to bring the trapped people to safety.

And Frederic Maurer, 49, one of the first passengers to be rescued along with his daughter and son, said: "We were in the cab for two-and-a-half hours locked under the sun.

"We had just started from flagship station Helbronner on the Italian side, when everything froze."

Mathieu Dechavanne, chief executive of the company that manages the cable cars, said the weather in the area was good, but the rescue operation would "take a while".

He told La Vanguardia: "We are in contact with customers. They have water and means to communicate."