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White-out delays chairlift probe

 The chairlift at the Lecht ski centre, showing one side of the lift hanging down.
The chairlift at the Lecht ski centre, showing one side of the lift hanging down.

Heavy snow has delayed an investigation into a chairlift accident which injured five children and an adult and left 36 people stranded.

A chairlift derailed at the Lecht ski centre at Corgarff, Aberdeenshire, yesterday, stranding skiers in freezing temperatures for more than an hour.

Officers from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) arrived at the centre today but blizzards and road closures mean their investigation has been postponed until conditions improve.

A spokeswoman said: "The joint investigation with Grampian Police is under way, however due to the worsening weather conditions the investigation will not be carried out on site at present."

The company which runs the resort, Lecht 2090, said it was "extremely upset" by the incident.

It said in a statement: "A major incident was called by the company to alert all the other emergency agents, who reacted quickly.

"The chair will be out of action for a while but the rest of the lifts will be working as normal.

"We are extremely upset that these people have been injured but as yet we don't (know) the cause of the problem with the chair."

Three of the injured group were airlifted from the slope and three others were taken to hospital by ambulance following the incident at about 3.30pm.

Two children have been released from Aberdeen Royal Infirmary where a further two children and an adult are still being treated, NHS Grampian said,

A fifth child is being cared for at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness and all are said to be in a "satisfactory condition".

The Lecht centre said 36 people who were stranded on the chairlift were rescued in an operation led by Grampian Police and Braemar mountain rescue teams.

It took around an hour and 40 minutes to remove the skiers from the slopes.

A police spokeswoman confirmed that officers would not be attempting to investigate today due to "whiteout" conditions.

Heavy snow has shut the A939 Ballater to Corgarff route.

Many skiers and snowboarders, including families, returned to the slopes earlier today.

Father-of-five Hugh Robertson, 36, made the trip from Inverurie, Aberdeenshire, with daughters Rachel, seven, and Isla, five.

He said: "Things can go wrong. I've been up to the Lecht quite a lot. It's well-run and I've never had a problem.

"It's good for children and families, it's a great day out."

When asked if the chairlift accident had put him off going to the Lecht, he said: "Not at all. If anything, I was hoping for shorter queues."

The Lecht is in the Cairngorms National Park and is popular with skiers and snowboarders in winter and mountain biking enthusiasts in the summer months.

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