Officials say strong winds tripped an electric circuit breaker causing the ride, which hangs over Mission Bay, to breakdown. Sixteen people have been rescued after getting trapped on a ride at SeaWorld for four hours.

The visitors were left hanging over a chilly California bay after their gondolas stopped working - with officials blaming an "unusual gust of significant wind" for the malfunction.

One by one, firefighters used ropes and harnesses to lower the park visitors into boats waiting in Mission Bay. They were then assessed by paramedics waiting on the dock.

No injuries were reported following Monday night's incident at the San Diego animal theme park.

According to local media reports, a child and a paralysed person were among those rescued.

Rescue workers were called at about 7.30pm local time to reports of more than a dozen people trapped in five gondolas hanging over the bay.

SeaWorld Entertainment spokesman David Koontz said park officials remained in contact with those stuck on the gondolas during the rescue through an intercom system - and they also had access to emergency blankets.

He added: "We'd like to applaud San Diego Fire and Rescue and San Diego Lifeguards for the professionalism during the evacuation operation."

SeaWorld said it would conduct a thorough inspection of the ride before reopening it to the public again.