Two Czechs escaped to Austria by swinging a home-made cable car along the path of a high-voltage power line spanning the border, the Austrian government said today.
The two Czechs, Robert Ospald, 35, and Zdenek Pohl, 20, made their daring escape Saturday, careening their cable car--fashioned from planks, rags and caster rollers--amid flying sparks along a dead wire of the power line running from Poland to Czechoslovakia to Austria, Austria's Interior Ministry said.
The escape was the most daring from a communist country since two East German families of eight people floated on the tiny platform of a home-made balloon to West Germany on Sept. 16, 1979.
As the two Czechs guided themselves along the non-lethal maintenance wire, there was some hazard from flying sparks in the wet weather, Austrian police said.
The two men got down safely near the Austrian border crossing at Haugsdorf, where they tried to board a bus for the nearby refugee camp at Traiskirchen, police said.
Since they had no Austrian money the bus driver refused them the ride and sent them to Haugsdorf police headquarters, where they arrived "looking wet and exhausted."
Ospald, a forest worker, and Pohl, a locksmith, asked for political asylum during their interrogation.