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Passenger Dies in Cable Car Plunge

October 13, 1996

QUEBEC (AP) _ A cable car broke loose this weekend, hurling passengers into a wall at the bottom of the steep run in a Quebec City historical area. A British tourist was killed and 15 people were injured.

The accident occurred Saturday when a cable that pulls the car along a track between Quebec City’s historic lower town and a cliff snapped just as the car neared the end of its downward run.

An emergency brake failed to stop the car, which sped out of control and smashed into the wall of a booth where passengers enter and exit the car.

``It was a dreadful mess,″ said Marcel Auclair, a city resident. ``People were piled on top of each other. I saw right away that the cables, which are normally in the center, weren’t there any more.″

Police refused to identify the 47-year-old woman from London who was killed pending notification of next of kin.

The 12 women and four men aboard the cable car on Saturday were from Britain, the United States and the French islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon. Most sustained fractures, bruises and were in shock and one was more seriously hurt, authorities said.

Andre Morin, manager of the Otis Canada branch that handles maintenance, declined to speculate on the cause of the accident. The cable car, he said, can carry up to 20 people.

Hundreds of thousands of tourists ride it every year between the historic lower town and Quebec’s walled quarter atop a cliff. The system was built in 1879, and completely renovated in 1978.

A one-way trip normally takes a minute or so, offering a view of the city and the St. Lawrence River.

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