By Ruzanna Stepanian
A cable car crashed to the ground in Yerevan on Friday, killing four of its passengers and injuring seven others. All of the injured were hospitalized.
The car came off the rail track and fell from a 15-meter altitude to the courtyard of a private house in the Nork district that lies on a steep hillside overlooking downtown Yerevan.
One of its residents, Zhenya Grigorian, was leaving the house when the crash occurred. “I immediately ran to the neighbors and told them to call an ambulance,” she said.
The machine operator lost control of another car moving in the opposite direction with three people on board. It was jolted by the crash but did not fall down.
The cause of the deadly accident, the worst in the history of the city’s cable railway, is not yet known. A senior official at the Armenian government’s Department on Emergency Situations suggested that the cabin carrying eleven people may have been derailed by a sudden snap of the steel rope that pulled it up the slope.
The official, Sergei Mkhitarian, told RFE/RL that one of the victims is an Iranian citizen. Another Iranian died in hospital later in the day.
The head of the public transportation department at the Yerevan municipality, Ara Movsisian, laid the blame on a private company that owns the funicular. He said responsibility for commuters’ safety rests with it.
District prosecutors launched a criminal investigation in connection with the crash.