Mottarone cable auto crash: Italy investigates cause of accident

Carrie Guzman
May 25, 2021

Investigators probed the causes Monday of a terrifying cable vehicle crash in the Italian mountains that left 14 people dead, including five Israelis, and a young child fighting for life.

Rescuers work by the wreckage of a cable vehicle after it collapsed near the summit of the Stresa-Mottarone line in the Piedmont region, northern Italy, May 23, 2022. A young child was hospitalised in a serious condition with broken bones, authorities said.

Images from the scene show a crumpled cable vehicle on a slope overlooking the lake.

The cable vehicle service was popular with tourists for its picturesque views during the 20-minute ride from the lakeside base to the roughly 1,500-meter-high mountaintop.

The ill-fated cable vehicle started running again a month ago after a long break due to the pandemic, the cableway's website says.

"There are various aspects of this affair that will certainly be clarified", Transport Minister Enrico Giovannini said after visiting Stresa, the town at the base of the cable vehicle.

This is a developing story.

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

The funicular line is popular with tourists and locals alike to scale Mottarone, which reaches a height of 1491 metres and overlooks several picturesque lakes and the surrounding Alps of Italy's Piedmont region.

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Barbara and Yitzhak Cohen of Tel Aviv, who were killed on May 23, 2022, when a cable vehicle collapsed near the summit of the Stresa-Mottarone line in the Piedmont region, northern Italy. She said the cabin reeled back down the line until it apparently hit a pylon and then plummeted to the ground.

The trip up the mountain from the base at the lake features a cable vehicle to get up halfway and then a chairlift to reach a small amusement park, Alpyland, further up that has a children's rollercoaster offering 360-degree views of the scenery.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi offered his condolences to the victims "with a particular thought about the seriously injured children and their families".

It only reopened a few weeks ago after Italy's wintertime coronavirus lockdowns lifted, and officials hypothesised that families were taking advantage of a sunny Sunday to visit the peak and take in the view.

The mountain hosts a small amusement park, Alpyland, that has a children's rollercoaster, and the area also has mountain bike paths and hiking trails.

Italy's transport minister, Enrico Giovannini, was following the rescue effort, which involved the deployment of three helicopters to the mountainside.

It is the latest incident to raise questions about the quality of Italy's transport infrastructure.

"After the massacre of the (Genoa) Morandi Bridge, the derailments of trains, the seizures of bridges and viaducts at risk throughout Italy, the shipwrecks of cruise ships, it is clear that in our country something does not work on the front of controls on transport safety", wrote Codacons President Carlo Rienzi in a statement.

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