Cable Car Plunges in Italy, Killing at Least 14 People


A cable car plunged to the ground on Sunday near the top of a mountain in the northwestern region of Piedmont in Italy, killing at least 14 people and seriously injuring a minor, authorities said.

The cable car was traveling at a height of nearly 40 feet from the Lake Maggiore area to Mottarone Mountain, a nearly 5,000-foot peak, when it suddenly fell near a forest around 1 p.m.

The cause of the accident was not immediately clear, a spokesman for the military police said.

Victims included three children, one of whom was rescued from the wreck but later died at a hospital. Almost half of those who lost their lives were foreigners — a family of six Israeli citizens, four of whom were living in a city near Milan, and an Iranian living in southern Italy.

Video footage from the area showed a white and red cable car crushed against a spruce tree, with the cable on the car’s roof severed.

The cable car service had been fully renovated in 2016, and after having been shut down during the pandemic, it began running again a month ago.

The accident appeared to be Italy’s worst cable car disaster since 1998, when a low-flying U.S. military jet cut through the cable of a ski lift in Cavalese, in the Dolomites, killing 20 people.

“It is impossible to say what happened at this stage,” Emilio Campana, the director of the department of engineering at Italy’s National Research Council, said in a phone interview.

The company that carried out the latest renovation said in a statement that the cables showed “no issues” during the latest electromagnetic test in November. A more thorough check was carried out in 2016, when the company reviewed the carriages, the carts, the winches and the electronic devices.

“The results were always positive,” Leitner Ropeways, the company, said in an emailed statement. “We are completely available with our technicians to determine the cause of this terrible tragedy as soon as possible.”

The Stresa-Mottarone cable car, which takes visitors from the lake to the mountain in 20 minutes, is one of the most beloved tourist attractions in the area, and is described on its website as “one of Italy’s most beautiful natural terraces.” It allows visitors to admire a vast panoramic view from the Alps all the way to the flatlands near the Po River.

Italy’s infrastructure minister, Enrico Giovannini, established a commission to investigate the incident and to verify the maintenance and checks performed on the ropeway in the past.

“It is a terrible tragedy,” Alberto Cirio, president of the Piedmont Region, told national television. “We need to understand, because safety can never be neglected.”

National authorities expressed their sympathies and concern for victims of the accident.

President Sergio Mattarella of Italy said in a statement that the crash caused “deep sorrow for the victims and great concern for those who are fighting for their lives.”

The two children rescued from the wreckage of the cable car were flown by helicopter to a pediatric hospital in Turin, 80 miles south of Stresa. One of them died hours later. Authorities were still trying to determine their ages and identities.

“I learned with deep sadness of the news about the tragic accident on the Stresa-Mottarone cable car,” Italy’s Prime Minister, Mario Draghi, said in a note. “I am expressing the condolences of the entire government to the victims’ families, with a special thought for the children who were seriously wounded and to their families.”


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