Italy

Cable car crashes to ground in northern Italy, at least 14 killed

Photo taken and released on May 23, 2021 by Italian firefighters "Vigili del Fuoco" shows rescuers from a cable car that crashed into the ground in the resort town of Stresa on the shores of Lake Maggiore, in the Piedmont region, leaving at least 13 dead.
Photo taken and released on May 23, 2021 by Italian firefighters "Vigili del Fuoco" shows rescuers from a cable car that crashed into the ground in the resort town of Stresa on the shores of Lake Maggiore, in the Piedmont region, leaving at least 13 dead. Handout Vigili del Fuoco/AFP

At least 14 people have died with one child seriously injured after a cable car plunged to the ground in northern Italy near the resort town of Stresa on Lake Maggiore, according to emergency services.

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The cable car was headed for Mottarone mountain, located at nearly 1,500 meters above sea level and offering spectacular views of the Alps.

According to initial news reports, the accident in the region of Piedmont occurred around 300 meters from the summit and was believed to have been caused by a cable snapping at the top of the system.

Firefighters and Alpine rescuers rushed to the scene of the accident, but operations were complicated as the cable car fell in a wooded area where a steep slope made access difficult.

Italy's Prime Minister Mario Draghi said he “learned with deep pain of the tragic accident” and expressed the government’s condolences to the families of all the victims.  

Infrastructure and Mobility Minister Enrico Giovannini and the head of the Italian Civil Defence department, Fabrizio Curcio, will travel to Stresa on Monday.

The cable car had been reopened to the public after the lockdown due to Covid-19 on 24 April 24. It was busy with tourists, who chose to take the 20-minute cable car ride, as weather conditions were particularly favourable this weekend and many took the opportunity to go up to the mountains.

Normally the cable car has a capacity of 40 people but due to social distancing measures, the number was reduced.

The Stresa-Mottarone cable car system had been closed in 2014 and underwent extraordinary maintenance with major renovation works costing 4 million euro and then reopened in 2016.

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