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TRAPPED FOR 1 HOUR ON EDGE OF OBLIVION; 16 in rollercoaster terror.

SIXTEEN people were last night trapped for an hour on one of Britain's most terrifying rollercoaster rides.

Alton Towers' newest attraction, the pounds 12million Oblivion, broke down leaving horrified passengers suspended 60ft above the ground in freezing conditions.

Crews from the Staffordshire theme park climbed up to the stranded visitors and gave out blankets to keep them warm.

They eventually used a harness to carry the passengers to safety one by one.

One eyewitness said: "They had little choice but to sit tight and wait for someone to get them down. It must have been quite scary.

"It was very cold. There had been snow and rain. The ride is frightening enough as it is but this was one experience they couldn't have expected.

"Alton Towers were very good about the situation and had it under control quickly. I can't praise them enough."

A spokesman for the amusement park last night apologised to the visitors involved in the incident but said no passengers or staff were at any risk.

He added: "The ride was evacuated within a very short period of time with the minimum of fuss.

"As with all rides at Alton Towers, Oblivion is fitted with very sensitive safety systems and automatically shuts down if even a minor fault is detected."

It is the second time The Oblivion ride has broken down since it opened a month ago.

Seven people were trapped last month due to a power surge.

Visitors are buckled into a seat in one of the seven 16-passenger cars and lifted up 100ft.

They are then suspended face down above a sheer, vertical drop for three seconds before being plunged at 70mph into a smoking "black hole" at the bottom.

According to the publicity blurb it's like jumping off the 16th floor of London's Canary Wharf tower. The G-force is billed as being greater than that felt by astronauts at take-off.
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Copyright 1998 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Bain, Charlie
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Apr 15, 1998
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