Italy probes fatal cable car crash

·2-min read

Italy's transport minister has vowed to find the cause of a cable car crash that killed 14 people after the cable apparently snapped and the cabin careened back down the mountain until it came off the line and crashed to the ground.

The lone survivor of Sunday's horrific incident, a five-year-old Israeli boy living in Italy, remained hospitalised in Turin on Monday with multiple broken bones.

The Israeli foreign ministry identified him as Eitan Biran. His parents, younger brother and two great-grandparents were among the dead, the ministry said, correcting an earlier statement that had included Eitan among the victims.

Italian media identified all the other victims as residents of Italy.

The disaster, in one of the most picturesque spots in northern Italy - the Mottarone mountaintop overlooking Lake Maggiore and other lakes near Switzerland - raised questions anew about the quality and safety of Italy's transport infrastructure.

Transport Minister Enrico Giovannini visited the site on Monday and announced a commission of inquiry to investigate the "technical and organisational causes" of the accident, while prosecutors will focus on any criminal blame.

Giovannini told reporters in Stresa, the lakefront town at the foot of the Mottarone peak, that the aim of the investigative commission would be to "ensure this never happens again."

The transport ministry said a preliminary check of the cable line's safety and maintenance record show that the whole lift structure underwent a renovation in August 2016, and that a full maintenance check was performed in 2017.

Late last year, inspections were performed on the cables themselves, including magnetic inspections on the primary cables of the lift: the cable that pulls the cabin up the mountain, the support cable that holds the car and the rescue cables. In December another visual check was performed, the ministry said.

The mayor of Stresa, Marcella Severino, quoted witnesses as saying they heard a "loud hiss," apparently when the lead cable snapped. She said the cabin reeled back down the line until it apparently hit a pylon and then plummeted to the ground. It rolled over two or three times before crashing into trees, she said.

It wasn't immediately clear why a brake had not engaged.

Some of the bodies were thrown from the car and were found amid the trees, rescue workers said.

The cable car only reopened a few weeks ago.