21 people are stuck overnight in the air tram over the mountain in New Mexico

Twenty-one people had to call in the new year, stuck inside a pair of trams that were dangling high over a mountainside on the outskirts of Albuquerque, New Mexico, after icy conditions had got stuck in the Sandia Peak Tramway.

The cars, which were transporting tram staff as well as staff from the restaurant at the top, were stuck around 10pm local time on Friday due to ice formation on the tram line, Albuquerque news station KRQE reported.

On Saturday, news station KOATs Kalyn Norwood shared a spectator’s photo which showed a tram car hanging over a frost ridge near one of the tramway towers.

Tramway general manager Michael Donovan told KRQE Saturday morning that rescuers had to wait for weather conditions to improve to begin evacuating people safely.

As of early Saturday afternoon, a rescue operation involving several state and county agencies was underway, with helicopters picking up a few people at a time. The Bernalillo County Fire Department tweeted around 6 p.m. 13.15 that 20 people had been successfully rescued after about 15 hours trapped on the tram, with one person left in one of the gondolas.

Prior to the rescue, a woman in one of the trams posted pictures of people crammed into blankets.

The Sandia Peak Tramway is a popular tourist attraction that takes riders up to the highest point of the Sandia Mountains – an elevation of 10,378 feet – on a ride that usually takes about 15 minutes.

A picture of the Sandia Peak Tramway in May 2006.

AP Photo / Jake Schoellkopf

The tramway’s website states that it will be closed on Saturday and Sunday.

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