Several people were killed in a cable car accident in northern Italy on Sunday, according to authorities. A spokesman for the National Alpine Speleological Rescue Corps, which is coordinating the rescue mission, said a team was traveling in a Stresa-Mottarone cable car that links the town of Stresa on Lake Maggiore when it plunged into a wooded area Sunday morning.
14 of 15 people on board the cable car died
Authorities claimed there were 15 people on board the cable car at the time of the accident, with authorities previously stating that two children were among those who survived with injuries. "One of the two children who were flown to a Turin hospital by helicopter died. The number of people who have died today has now risen to 14, unfortunately," the National Alpine Speleological Rescue Corps tweeted on Sunday, as per CNN.
According to the emergency group, the other kid is also in serious condition. The national fire service of Italy shared an image of the crash scene on social media, showing first responders encircling the mangled cable car, which is surrounded by fallen trees and severed cables.
A fire department spokesman confirmed that the death toll could rise. The crash occurred when a cable snapped just as the car was finishing the 20-minute journey from the Lido di Stresa piazza on Lake Maggiore to the Mottarone station at the top of the mountain 1,491 meters above sea level.
Local media ANSA reported the cable snapped 300 meters from the mountain's top. The car then crashed into a densely forested area with no easy access to the road. Alpine rescuers were lowered to the crash scene by helicopter, and the victims were lifted out.
Italian government expresses sympathy to the victims' families
Mayor Marcella Severino of Stresa claimed a cable appeared to have broken, sending the vehicle swerving until it collided with a tower and then crashed to the ground. Per SCMP, the car overturned "two or three times before hitting some trees" at that time, she said. Some of the victims were tossed from the cabin and died as a result.
The Italian government has established a commission to investigate the tragedy, which is expected to raise additional concerns about the quality and safety of the country's transportation system. The crumpled cable car was discovered near the summit of the Mottarone range, which overlooks Lake Maggiore, in a clearing surrounded by a forest of pine trees. According to Italian newspapers, the car was thought to have fallen 15 meters.
Officials initially stated that there were 11 people on board at the time of the crash, with nine of them dead, but those numbers were later updated. The death toll still stands at 14, with a total of 15 passengers believed to have been on board. One of the twins on board needs surgery after getting multiple fractures.
Italy Prime Minister Mario Draghi issued a statement expressing his "deepest sadness" and sympathy for the victims' families. The cable line has been in use since 1970. It recently reopened after being closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Between 2014 and 2016, it was also closed for repairs and upgrades. The tragic incident is the worst cable car crash in Italy since a ski lift accident in Cavalese killed 20 people in 1998, News.com reported.