2 left stranded 50 meters high at Japan amusement park

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Firefighters rescue the passengers at 11:02 p.m. Friday.

HIRAKATA, Osaka — Two people were left stranded 50 meters high for four hours Friday after a drop tower amusement ride stopped at an Osaka Prefecture amusement park.

The two passengers — a man and a woman — were rescued at about 11 p.m., according to Hirakata Park in Hirakata. Though uninjured, the rescued individuals complained of feeling unwell and were taken to hospital.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Passengers are seen stranded in a drop tower gondola at Hirakata Park in Hirakata, Osaka Prefecture, at 10:20 p.m. on Friday.

According to the park, the drop tower has three four-seat gondolas. Normally, the brakes are briefly applied to the gondolas as they approach the top of the tower, before being released. The gondolas then fall freely from about 50 meters high.

However, at about 7 p.m., the brakes failed to release on all three gondolas. Park staff on the ground managed to release the brakes on two of the gondolas and lower them to the ground but were unable to free the third one.

The park called the emergency services shortly before 9 p.m., nearly two hours after the malfunction.

Ladder too short

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
A drop tower amusement ride in Hirakata Park in May 2013

A ladder truck was dispatched to the scene, but the ladder’s reach was only 42 meters — too short to reach the stranded riders. Firefighters subsequently climbed to the top of the tower to manually release the brakes and lower the stranded gondola at about 11 p.m., the Hirakata Neyagawa Fire Department said.

According to the Japan Meteorological Agency, the temperature in the city was 3.2 C at 10 p.m.

A similar incident has occurred once before, but the ground staff were able to release the brakes, according to the park.

“We apologize for the trouble caused to our guests,” the park said. “We’re currently investigating the cause of the problem.”

Following the incident, the park was temporarily closed Saturday.