At least eight injured as faulty ski lift flings tourists from their seats

The lift began to reverse rapidly and flung people from their seats.
The lift began to reverse rapidly and flung people from their seats. Photo credit: YouTube/Giorgi Zedginidze

At least eight people have been injured on a Georgian ski field after a chairlift began malfunctioning and reversing at great speed, throwing people into the air.

Video from the resort of Gudauri shows broken chairs piling up on the ground as tourists are whipped around the base of the lift, The Guardian reports.

Bystanders scream at people to jump before they hit the bottom and some do, hanging precariously from the chairs before they let go.

Witness Ryan Wilkinson, 24, tells The Guardian the lift had been closed for repairs all week before reopening on Friday morning.

According to Mr Wilkinson, the lift stopped for a moment before beginning to reverse and rapidly picking up speed.

"All the chairs were full of people. Everyone was shouting in Georgian and English for people to jump off.

"The only thing that stopped it getting worse was the friction caused by the pile-up of chairs at the bottom. People would have kept flying round otherwise."

Georgian Health Minister Davit Sergeenko says nobody was seriously injured. Two people were airlifted to a hospital in Tbilisi.

The injured are from Georgia, Russia, Sweden and the Ukraine.

No reason has been given as to why the chairlift malfunctioned so spectacularly, but two technicians are on their way to Georgia to assess it.

The local interior ministry has launched a criminal investigation into violation of safety norms.