Several dead after cable car accident in Italy

World Monday 24/May/2021 16:41 PM
By: DW
Several dead after cable car accident in Italy

Italian authorities said 14 people were killed on Sunday when a cable car plunged 20 meters (65 feet) to the ground near the northern city of Verbania.

The tragedy happened near the top of the Stresa-Mottarone line that links Lake Maggiore with a nearby mountain.

Two children were taken to the hospital with severe injuries, and one of them later died, officials said.

At least five Israeli nationals were among the dead.

"Serious accident on the Stresa-Mottarone cable car. Alpine rescue, and other rescue teams on site. Two helicopter ambulances intervened," the national alpine rescue service said on Twitter.

Officials said some of the victims were found trapped inside the car, with others thrown out into the woods.

Images show debris from the crushed cabin in a wooded area where a steep slope makes access difficult.

Broken cable theory

DW correspondent Seema Gupta said it was believed that the accident may have been caused by a broken traction cable.

Alpine rescue service spokesman Walter Milan said the ski lift cables were particularly high off the ground at the location of the accident.

"The cable car fell from a relatively high point and lay down on the ground at the foot of a large forest. Now it appears substantially destroyed on the ground… almost completely crumpled, so the fall was obviously significant," Milan told the Il Messaggero newspaper.

President Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Mario Draghi expressed their "profound grief," offering condolences to the victims' families.

European Council President Charles Michel sent out a tweet in Italian expressing his "most sincere condolences to the families and friends who have lost a loved one in this tragic accident."

Regional as well as other EU leaders expressed their sorrow and shock.

It's understood that the cable line was renovated in 2016 and that it had only reopened last month after coronavirus lockdowns.

The 20-minute cable car ride, popular with tourists, links the resort of Stresa with the 1,500-meter (4,900-foot) summit of the Mottarone mountain. The peak overlooks Lake Maggiore and offers spectacular views of the Alps.