'Six hurt' in US ski lift accident


Skiers and lift chairs lie on the slope after a lift derailed on a mountain in Carrabassett Valley, Maine (AP)

Several people have been hurt after a chair lift derailed in high winds at Maine’s tallest ski mountain, sending screaming skiers plummeting 30ft to the slope below.

A spokesman for the Sugarloaf resort in Carrabassett Valley, about 120 miles north of Portland, said about six people were injured when five chairs fell.

The resort’s ski patrol evacuated the lift, which had recently passed an inspection.

None of the injuries appeared to be life-threatening, the resort said. The injured were treated and taken to hospitals.

About 220 people were on the lift at the time.

One witness, Jay Marshall, said that after the lift involved had stopped and restarted, there had been a “loud snapping noise” followed by screams. “The next thing I know, it was bouncing up and down like a yo-yo,” he said. Some skiers tumbled from their chairs.

Jill Gray, a spokeswoman for Franklin Memorial Hospital in Farmington, about 45 miles away from the mountain, said that one person was taken there and flown to Maine Medical Center in Portland.

Another person was being treated in Franklin’s emergency room, she said, and the hospital expected to receive five more patients. She did not give details on the injuries.

At the time of the accident, high winds were buffeting Maine a day after a blizzard swept across the region. The National Weather Service has no wind sensors near Sugarloaf, but a weather balloon launched in Gray, in southern Maine, showed winds of 40mph at 1,000ft, a weather service meteorologist.

It is unclear whether the accident was wind-related or mechanical.

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