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All passengers rescued from SeaWorld gondola ride after malfunction

All 16 passengers trapped on suspended gondolas at SeaWorld for several hours Monday night have been rescued, the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department said.

The passengers waited in cars that had stopped midair after wind knocked out power to the Bayside Skyride, the department said.

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The rescues took place in stages. About 11 p.m, the last two passengers were rescued. The first rescue, of two children, was announced at 9:24 p.m.

A statement by SeaWorld said the Bayside Skyride attraction stopped after “an unusual gust of significant wind.” Sixteen passengers, including an infant, were in five cars, according to official and news reports.

The National Weather Service says SeaWorld was hit by a 20-mph gust out of the north-northwest at 6:30 p.m.

Rescue crews were called in shortly after 8 p.m. when power could not be restored to the ride.

SeaWorld’s “mechanics weren’t able to get the gondola going,” Fire-Rescue spokesman Jose Ysea said.

The cold weather probably made it harder for those trapped on the gondolas. At 8 p.m., the temperature was 48 degrees and falling at SeaWorld.

Fire and lifeguard crews were on site, on the gondola towers and in boats in Mission Bay, long after the park closed at 7:30 p.m.

During the rescue, a team talked with trapped riders, getting information about the number of people aboard each of the stranded gondolas. They used harnesses and a pulley system to reach the riders.

SeaWorld said it would carefully inspect the ride before if can be operated again. The ride opened in 1967.

Bradley J. Fikes writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune. Staff writers Lori Weisberg and Gary Robbins contributed to this report.

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