Italian cable auto crash kills several, injures two children

Italy cable car

The Stresa-Mottarone cable auto takes tourists and locals from the town on Lake Maggiore, nearly 1,400 metres above sea level to the top of the Mottarone mountain in 20 minutes. A nine-year-old boy was also among the victims.

The plunge on the Stresa-Mottarone line happened about 100 metres before the final pylon, in a spot where the cables were particularly high off the ground, said Walter Milan, spokesman for Italy's Alpine rescue service.

Italy's transport minister, Enrico Giovannini, announced a commission to look into the tragedy and said he had already requested data on the maintenance work and inspections done on the line in the past.

Italy's transport minister vowed Monday to establish the cause of the cable vehicle disaster, which occurred after the lead cable apparently snapped and the cabin careened back down the mountain until it came off the line and crashed to the ground.

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

In February 1998, a low-flying USA military jet severed a cable at Cavalese, a ski resort in Italy's Dolomites, killing 20 people.

It came at the start of the country's much-anticipated reopening to tourists after coronavirus closures, and elicited condolences from around the world.

"They are all suppositions, but I think there has been a double problem, the breakup of the cable and the non-working of the emergency brake", he told La Stampa daily.

What do we know of the victims?

It was busy with tourists, who chose to take the 20-minute cable vehicle ride, as weather conditions were particularly favourable this weekend and many took the opportunity to go up to the mountains.

Rescuers found five bodies still inside the cable auto, with the others strewn outside.

The youngest child, a boy, suffered a serious head injury, trauma to his abdomen and breaks to his legs, but is still conscious, Sky Italia reported. The two children were in a serious condition and were taken to a Turin hospital.

"We await the next 48 hours, the situation is critical but there's still hope".

Stresa Mayor Marcella Severino said it appeared that a cable broke, sending the vehicle careening until it hit a pylon and then fell to the ground on Sunday (Monday NZT). The cable line appeared to have snapped, but the cause hasn't yet been determined.

He said the cable could have been corroded, or overused, but added: "Usually there is not one sole cause, but a series of causes that unfortunately combine in the worst way and cause a tragedy". In 2018, the Morandi bridge in Genoa collapsed after years of neglect, killing 43 people.