Two climbers have died following a dramatic search and rescue operation on New Year's Day, News24 reported. Their companion, a woman, was rescued. Approximately 800 people were left stranded on the mountain for hours as a result of Table Mountain's cable cars being commandeered for the rescue.
The three climbers were believed to have been climbing Arrow Final when they fell. Johann Marais of Wilderness Search and Rescue (WSAR) told News24 that the bodies of the two deceased men would be secured until they could be brought down the mountain after all the other visitors had been brought down.
The surviving woman was reportedly brought down the mountain just after 10pm on Monday night.
"We thank the public for understanding the predicament and the reason why we had to call for the assistance of the cable car," Marais reportedly said.
This image circulated on social media, showing a rescuer performing CPR on one of the climbers on a steep cliff:
Another image showed the rescue operation unfolding:
Many tourists who were stranded on the mountain during the operation were left in the dark about why the cable cars were not available to take them down the mountain.
Rescue operation happening on table mountain. Stuck up here now for 5 hours. Anyone know what's going on? pic.twitter.com/sUhUbkPsxE— Tor (@TorFitzwilliams) January 1, 2018
Yho We've Been at #TableMountain for the past 4 hours 😩— Sisanda. (@Sisa__M) January 1, 2018
This rescue operation is taking forever 😭
Dramatic rescue unfolding on #TableMountain all trams stopped, hundreds (including me) stranded on top of mountain with temperatures dropping. Emergency workers prioritizing the young and elderly.— John (@_johnzee) January 1, 2018
The cable cars became operational in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
Our operations have resumed and our visitors are being transported down as quickly as we are able to do so. Please follow @SafetyMountain for updates on the mountain rescue.Thanks— Table Mountain C/Way (@TableMountainCa) January 1, 2018
One regular mountain hiker warned that hiking up table mountain remains extremely dangerous.
While figures for 2017 appear to be unavailable, Business Day reported that callouts for rescuers on Table Mountain increased from 169 in 2015 to 175 in 2016.
The WSAR told reporters that the three most common incidents were people getting lost, injured or dehydrated, and most of these were tourists.
"People underestimate Table Mountain. They misjudge the size of the mountain and they go unprepared. They don't take water with and they wear flip flops," Marais told Business Day.