'Devastated': Child among 14 people killed in cable car tragedy

·3-min read

At least 14 people have died after a cable car plummeted down a mountainside.

The Stresa-Mottarone cable car crashed on Sunday about midday (local time), killing at least 14 people and seriously injuring a child.

The cable car links Italy's Lake Maggiore and takes tourists almost 1400 metres above sea level to the top of the Mottarone mountain in 20 minutes.

A crashed cable car is seen after it collapsed in Stresa, near Lake Maggiore, Italy.
The Stresa-Mottarone cable car crashed, killing at least 14 people. Source: Reuters

Israel's Foreign Ministry said in a statement it had been informed by Italian authorities five of its nationals were among the dead and one Israeli was in a critical condition.

Marcella Severino, the mayor of nearby town Stresa, told broadcaster RAI: "We are devastated, in pain."

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi also voiced his condolences to the families of the victims.

The cable car was travelling up the mountain when the cabin plummeted some 20 metres to the ground and rolled down the steep slope several times before it was stopped by trees, Ms Severino said.

People hiking nearby heard a loud hiss just before the crash, she said, adding the accident was believed to have been caused by one of the cables breaking.

Ms Severino said some of the victims had been found trapped inside the car, with others thrown into the woods.

Police and rescue service members are seen near the crashed cable car after it collapsed in Stresa, near Lake Maggiore, Italy.
It's believed one of the cables broke causing the car to plummet. Source: Reuters

Coroners had started identifying the victims, who included foreign nationals, she said, without giving further details.

Italy's alpine rescue service said a call had first come just after midday, adding the cable car was lying "crumpled" in the woods and two children were taken by helicopter to a paediatric hospital in the nearby city of Turin.

The elder of the two, who was believed to be between 9 and 10, died after suffering two cardiac arrests, the hospital said.

Director General Giovanni La Valle said the hospital did not have personal data for the two children and nobody had been in contact with the hospital for them, indicating other family members could have been involved in the accident.

The younger child, estimated to be five years old, was conscious on arrival and was undergoing surgery to stabilise multiple fractures, Mr La Valle said.

The Stresa-Mottarone lift had only recently reopened following the gradual lifting of coronavirus restrictions.

"It's a terrible moment for me and for our community and I think also for the whole of Italy. Especially now that we were just beginning to restart (after the pandemic)," Ms Severino said.

The Mottarone peak is popular among tourists because of its panoramic views on Lake Maggiore and its picturesque islands as well as the vista of the surrounding Alps.

A crashed cable car is seen after it collapsed in Stresa, near Lake Maggiore, Italy.
The service had only just recently reopened after it was closed due to Covid-19 restrictions. Source: Reuters

The cable car service first opened in August 1970 after almost three years of works to replace a cog railway, its website said.

The dual cable system is split into two sections: just over two kilometres between Stresa and Alpino, and another three kilometres between Alpino and Mottarone. 

It consists of two cars – in alternate directions – with each one carrying up to 40 passengers, it added.

Ms Severino said important maintenance works, including changing the cables, had been carried out in recent years.

"All of this is hard to believe," the mayor said.

Do you have a story tip? Email: newsroomau@yahoonews.com.

You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and download the Yahoo News app from the App Store or Google Play.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting