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An Out-Of-Control Ski Lift Sent People Flying Into The Air In Georgia

At least 10 people were injured after a resort's ski lift in the country of Georgia malfunctioned and began throwing people off.

Posted on March 16, 2018, at 1:33 p.m. ET

Terrifying videos posted on social media showed tourists in the country of Georgia being violently thrown from a malfunctioning ski lift that began going backward at double the normal speed, authorities said Friday.

The Sadzele ski lift at the Gudauri ski resort in Georgia stopped working on Friday, resulting in the chairs crashing into each other and riders being thrown into the air, Magda Sanikidze, a spokesperson for the federal agency of the Mountain Resorts of Georgia, told BuzzFeed News.

At least 10 people, including a pregnant woman, were injured in the accident, Sanikidze said. Videos showed the wreckage of several chairs crushed at the bottom of the hill.

Their injuries do not appear to be severe based on preliminary information, according to authorities.

Ambulance crews transported those injured to the resort's clinic, Sanikidze told BuzzFeed News. Some of those injured were brought to Tbilisi by helicopter, the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia said in a statement.

Some skiers jumped off their chairs midair to avoid being flung off or crashing at the bottom of the hill.

Yuri Leontyev, 32, who was on the ski lift with two of his friends, told CNN that they jumped off when the ski lift stopped and began going in reverse.

"We had to jump from it, because at the bottom [of the hill] it was total trash and no chance to stay safe," he said.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia has begun an investigation into the incident and authorities said that those found responsible will be punished.

The government has also called in experts from the ski lift producer, Doppelmayr, to determine the cause of the malfunction.

A spokesperson for Doppelmayr told the Telegraph that their employees were on their way to Gudauri but had no "detailed information" on what caused the accident.

BuzzFeed News has reached out to Doppelmayr for comment.

The government "will fully compensate health and treatment service costs," for the injured, Sanikidze said.


The name and specialization of the ski lift manufacturer, Doppelmayr, was misstated in an earlier version of this post.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.