A cable car has fallen at Lake Maggiore in northern Italy, killing at least 14 people and seriously injuring one child.
The accident occurred on Sunday on the Stresa-Alpino Mottarone funicular, which transports passengers from the resort town Stresa to the peak of the nearby Mottarone mountain. It is mainly used by tourists.
The trip up the mountain takes 20 minutes, ending about 1400 metres above sea level. According to Italy’s alpine rescue service, the car was about 100 metres away from the summit when it fell, crashing into a wooded area. After a 20-metre drop, it rolled over several times before coming to a stop.
Rescue services were alerted around 12:30pm, local time.
Officials initially said 11 people were on board at the time of the accident, nine of whom were killed, but those figures were later revised. The death toll currently stands at 14, and it is thought there were 15 passengers in total.
Two children, aged nine and five, were transported by helicopter to a paediatric hospital in Turin. The nine-year-old later died. The five-year-old was undergoing surgery for multiple fractures.
Photos from the scene showed the car lying crumpled in a clearing.
“We are devastated, in pain,” said Stresa’s Mayor, Marcella Severino.
The crash is thought to have been caused by a ruptured cable.
Italy’s ministry of infrastructure said the accident appeared to have been caused by a ruptured cable near the top of the route.
Prime Minister Mario Draghi has released a statement expressing his “profound grief” and offering condolences to the victims’ families.
The cable line has existed since 1970, though it only reopened recently after being shut due to the coronavirus pandemic.
It was also closed for maintenance and renovations between 2014 and 2016.
This is Italy’s worst cable car incident since 1998, when a ski lift accident in Cavalese killed 20 people.
– with AFP