Italy was left stunned on Sunday after a cable car plummeted to the ground near Lake Maggiore, a northern Italian beauty spot. The tragedy took the lives of 14 people, including a nine-year-old child.
The cable car is thought to have been carrying 15 people on a 20-minute ride from the resort town of Stresa to the Mottarone mountain in the region of Piedmont, before it crashed some 20 metres to the ground shortly after midday.
— Gianluca Avagnina (@GianlucAvagnina) May 23, 2021
Two children were seriously hurt in the accident and were airlifted to Regina Margherita children’s hospital in Turin. Anine-year-old boy died after several attempts to restart his heart failed. “There was nothing more we could do,” said hospital spokesman Pier Paolo Berra. The Alpine rescue service on Twitter revealed that the other child, a five-year-old, remains in a serious condition with brain trauma and broken legs.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it had been informed by Italian authorities that five Israeli nationals were also included in the death toll.
Marcella Severino, the Mayor of Stresa, told broadcaster RAI, “this is a terrible human tragedy, and a tragedy for the territory. She added, “Tomorrow morning we will hold a meeting with the various institutions … but right now, we are crying for the victims.”
The Stresa-Mottarone cable car service is popular with adventure seekers who want to get 1,400 metres above sea level to the top of the Mottarone mountain. The service had only just reopened on 24 April after Covid-19 restrictions were lifted.
It reportedly happened at around 12:30 local time (10:30 GMT) on Sunday. The cause of the incident still remains unclear, but local reports are suggesting that it may have been caused by a cable breaking near the top of the mountain.
Mayor Severino confirmed that the cabin fell sharply about 20m to the ground and rolled down the slope before being halted by trees. Walter Milan, an alpine rescue spokesperson, told television network RaiNews24 that the cable car was left “crumpled.”
The Italian Prime Minister, Mario Draghi, was left moved by the crash, calling it a “tragic accident.” He also added that he will be receiving updates from local and national officials.
“I express condolences on behalf of the whole government to the families of the victims, with a special thought for the seriously injured children and their families,” he said in a press statement.
“I express condolences on behalf of the whole government to the families of the victims”
Luisa Tesserin, a 27-year-old student from Genoa, told the AFP news agency that she and friends had been riding on the cable car about an hour before the crash happened.
“When we got on, the cable car didn’t give any strange signals, everything was fine. When they told us the news, we were shocked,” Ms Tesserin said.
The infrastructure Minister Enrico Giovannini has announced that a full inquiry into the incident will take place. Both himself and Fabrizio Curcio, the chief of the Italian civil defence department, will travel to Stresa on Monday to start investigating this tragic event further.
Our thoughts go out to the friends and family of those involved.