Fourteen people, including at least one child, have been killed and another child is seriously injured after a cable car fell on a mountain near Lake Maggiore in northern Italy on Sunday.
The accident happened on a service transporting passengers from the resort town of Stresa up the nearby Mottarone mountain in the region of Piedmont. Images from the scene show the wreckage lying in a steep wooded area. Five Israeli nationals were among the dead, Israel’s foreign ministry says.
Most of the victims died at the crash site, with the death toll steadily rising on Sunday afternoon as the wreckage was searched. Officials said two survivors, children aged about five and nine, were airlifted to a hospital in Turin but the older child later died. The younger child, who is also an Israeli national – underwent surgery and is in a critical condition. “We are devastated,” Marcella Severino, mayor of Stresa, told broadcaster RAI.
It reportedly happened at about 12:30 local time (10:30 GMT) on Sunday. The cause of the incident remains unclear, but local reports suggest the cable may have failed about 300m (984ft) from the top of the mountain. The cabin fell about 20m to the ground and rolled over down the slope before being stopped by trees, Mayor Severino said. Nearby hikers heard a loud hiss before the accident, she added.
Walter Milan, an alpine rescue spokesman, told television network RaiNews24 that the cable car was left “crumpled”.
Rescuers faced a crash site on steep and difficult terrain. A fire service vehicle overturned while responding but no-one was injured. Stresa’s mayor said victims had been found both inside and outside the wreckage of the cable car. Luisa Tesserin, a 27-year-old student from Genoa, told the AFP news agency that she and friends had been on the service 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. Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi described the crash as a “tragic accident” and said he was receiving updates from local and national officials. “I express the condolences 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 statement.
Infrastructure Minister Enrico Giovannini has announced an inquiry into the incident with a local prosecutor’s office also opening an investigation. EU Council President Charles Michel offered his condolences to the victim’s loved ones in a tweet written in Italian, adding that “Europe is in mourning with you”.