Italy: 14 dead and one seriously injured in the fall of a cable car

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The fall from a cable car cabin left 14 dead and one seriously injured, Sunday, May 23 in Stresa, a seaside resort in Piedmont on the shores of Lake Maggiore, in northern Italy. Two children aged nine and five had been hospitalized in Turin. The first, admitted to intensive care in critical condition, succumbed to his injuries, the Secours alpins announced on their Twitter account in the evening. The second suffered in particular from a head trauma and leg fractures.

According to the daily Corriere della Sera, German tourists are among the victims. The information has not been confirmed from an official source. President Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Mario Draghi expressed their “deep pain”.

“It’s a huge tragedy that takes our breath away”

The accident occurred around 12:30 p.m. 100 meters from the last altitude station of the cable car, according to a press release from the Ministry of Infrastructure. It is believed to be due to a broken cable on the highest part of the course, causing the cabin in which 15 people were located to fall. The president of the Piedmont region said he was “devastated”. “It’s a huge tragedy that takes our breath away,” responded Alberto Cirio.

An overload problem seemed ruled out from the outset, since these cabins can carry more than 35 passengers. The cabin fell about fifteen meters, then descended part of the slope before crashing into a tree, explained a local rifleman official.

The first images of the tragedy released by the authorities show firefighters and police officers around the debris of the red and white cabin, which fell in a wooded area whose steep slope makes access difficult. The Milan public prosecutor’s office has opened an investigation for “manslaughter and negligent injuries”.

Several precedents in Europe

The cable car connects the village of Stresa to Mount Mottarone in 20 minutes, which rises to almost 1,500 meters, offering spectacular views of Lake Maggiore and the Alps. It had been closed between 2014 and 2016 for maintenance work. “It’s a cable car on which maintenance has been done, they spent a lot of money (…) It’s an accident,” Angelo Garavaglia, 59, owner of the restaurant, told Agence France Presse. “Idrovolante” at the foot of the cable car. The shores of Lake Maggiore, a pre-Alpine lake between Switzerland and Italy, are a popular destination for Italian and foreign tourists.

The president of Liguria, a neighboring region of Piedmont, deplored an “absurd tragedy” when Italy finally benefits from deconfinement after months of health restrictions. “A reopening Sunday which should have been full of hopes”, underlined Giovanni Toti. Charles Michel, the President of the European Council, expressed on Twitter, in a message in Italian, his “deepest condolences to the families and friends who lost a loved one in this tragic accident”.

Several fatal accidents involving cable cars, gondolas or funiculars have taken place in Europe for 50 years. The most recent dates back to September 5, 2005, when an 800 kilogram block of concrete fell off the helicopter carrying it and fell on a cable car near Sölden in the Austrian Tyrol, killing nine skiers. Germans. In Italy, an accident occurred on February 3, 1998: an American military plane cut the cable of a cable car in Cavalese, a ski resort in the Dolomites, killing the 20 passengers in the cabin. Still in Cavalese but 20 years earlier, in 1976, a breakage of a carrier cable had caused a cabin to fall, killing 42 people.

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