24 May 2021

Italy cable car fall: 14 dead after accident near Lake Maggiore

7:53 am on 24 May 2021

Fourteen people including a child have been killed, and another child is seriously injured after a cable car fell on a mountain near Lake Maggiore in northern Italy on Sunday.

A photo taken and handout on May 23, 2021 by The Italian Firefighters "Vigili del Fuoco" shows rescuers working by a cable car that crashed to the ground in the resort town of Stresa on the shores of Lake Maggiore in the Piedmont region.

Rescuers working near the cable car wreckage. Photo: AFP / Vigili Del Fuoco / Handout

The accident happened on a service transporting passengers from the resort town of Stresa up the nearby Mottarone mountain in the region of Piedmont.

Images from the scene show the wreckage lying in a steep wooded area.

The victims included foreign nationals, the local mayor said.

"We are devastated, in pain," Marcella Severino, mayor of Stresa, told broadcaster RAI.

Two children aged five and nine were airlifted to hospital in Turin. The nine-year-old later died. The five-year-old was conscious upon arrival and was undergoing surgery for multiple fractures, the hospital said.

The death toll steadily rose in the hours after the accident as the wreckage was searched.

How did the crash happen?

It reportedly happened at about 12.30pm local time on Sunday.

The cause of the incident remains unclear, but local reports suggest the cable carrying the vehicle may have failed about 300m from the top of the mountain.

The cabin fell about 20m to the ground and rolled over several times down the slope before being stopped by trees, Severino said.

Nearby hikers heard a loud hiss before the accident, she added.

Police and fire officials were among those who responded, with rescuers facing a crash site on steep and difficult terrain.

Walter Milan, an alpine rescue spokesman, told television network RaiNews24 that the cable car was left "crumpled" having fallen from a high height.

Stresa's mayor said victims had been found both inside and outside the wreckage.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi described the crash as a "tragic accident" and said he was receiving updates from local and national officials.

"I express the condolences of the whole Government to the families of the victims, with a special thought for the seriously injured children and their families," he said in a statement.

Infrastructure Minister Enrico Giovannini has announced an inquiry into the incident.

EU Council President Charles Michel offered his condolences to the victim's loved ones in a tweet written Italian, adding that "Europe is in mourning with you".

What do we know about the cable car?

The website for the Stresa-Alpine-Mottarone service said it usually takes 20 minutes to transport passengers 1,491m above sea level.

The cable car originally opened in 1970 and was closed for maintenance between 2014 and 2016.