THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
December 31, 2022 at 16:09 JST
HIRAKATA, Osaka Prefecture--A young couple were left stranded for hours 50 meters above ground in freezing temperatures at an amusement park here after a ride malfunctioned.
Officials said the Giant Drop Meteo freefall attraction suddenly stopped near the top of the ride around 7 p.m. on Dec. 30, leaving the couple in their 20s strapped in their seats.
They were eventually rescued about four hours later and rushed to a hospital because they showed signs of hypothermia. They were not injured, but complained of feeling unwell.
The attraction at the Hirakata Park takes passengers to a height of about 50 meters before making a sudden drop to the ground.
Temperatures on the evening of Dec. 30 were close to zero.
The local fire department received an emergency phone call around 9 p.m. and dispatched assistance.
According to Hirakata Park officials, the three sets of seats stopped near the top of the ride around 7 p.m. While two sets were lowered manually, the third set containing the couple did not budge.
The longest ladder used by the local fire department only reaches a height of 42 meters, so a ladder truck to rescue the couple was out of the question.
Rescuers eventually managed to reach the pair by lowering the seats manually.
According to the Japan Meteorological Agency, the temperature in Hirakata at 10 p.m. on Dec. 30 was 3 degrees.
Park officials apologized to the couple.
The Hirakata Park website announced the amusement park would be closed Dec. 31 while the attractions undergo an inspection. The Giant Drop Meteo will also suspend operations for the time being.
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