Lake Maggiore crash - investigation opened into fatal accident

Investigation opened into Lake Maggiore crash

By Region News North-west Italy

Italy launches an investigation into the cause of Sunday’s Lake Maggiore crash that left 14 people dead.

The cable car fell 20m (65ft) into the side of the Mottarone mountain near Lake Maggiore in the Piedmont region of northern Italy.

Thirteen people died at the scene, including a two-year-old child. Rescuers airlifted two other children, aged nine and five, to hospital in Turin but the older child later died.

Investigation launched

Prosecutors in Milan said they had opened an investigation into involuntary homicide and negligence. Investigators have seized the operating company’s technical and maintenance documentation.

La Repubblica newspaper reported a lawyer for the company, Ferrovie del Mottarone, saying its clients carried out regular maintenance and checks. The cables were not due to be replaced until 2029, the newspaper added.

Technicians prepared to examine the wreckage of the cable car on Monday.

“Everything will be subject to technical checks in the coming days”, said local public prosecutor Olimpia Bossi. “We are carrying out investigations and technical checks.”

Two major problems

Matteo Gasparini, provincial head of Italy’s Alpine rescue service, said there appeared to have been two major problems – the breakage of the cable and the failure of the emergency brake.

The initial reports said the towing cable failed as the cable car neared its journey to the top of the Mottarone mountain. Nearby hikers heard a loud hiss before the car crashed to the ground and rolled into trees.

According to Ansa news agency, local police commander Lt Col Giorgio Santacroce said, “The others [cables] are intact, but it is too early to say what happened from a technical point of view. It will be necessary to understand why the safety devices have not been triggered, which should keep the cabin anchored.”

Marcella Severino, the mayor of Stresa, said the cable car “began to go backwards (and) probably hit a pylon”.

The victims

Ansa reported the victims were from five families. They all lived in Italy: three in Lombardy, one in Emilia-Romagna and one in Calabria.

Israel’s foreign ministry said the five Israelis who died were Amit Biran, 30, his wife Tal Peleg-Biran, 26, and their son Tom Biran, aged two, who lived in Pavia, Lombardy, and Ms Peleg-Biran’s grandparents Barbara Cohen Konisky, 70, and Yitzhak Cohen, 82, who were from Tel Aviv. The couple’s other son, five-year-old Eitan Biran, is in hospital in Turin with serious head and leg injuries.

Eitan is at Regina Margherita children’s hospital where he has undergone an operation and is now under sedation. By his side is his aunt, Mr Biran’s sister.

“He spent a quiet night, now all that remains is to hope,” said hospital director general Giovanni La Valle.

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