At least 14 people are dead and one 5-year-old child remains in critical condition after the cable snapped on the Stresa-Alpino Mottarone cable car at Lake Maggiore in northern Italy on Sunday morning. Thirteen people died at the scene and two children, aged 5 and 9, were airlifted to a hospital in Turin. One of those children died late Sunday afternoon. The second child remains in grave condition, authorities said.
On Monday, Italian prosecutors opened a multiple manslaughter investigation into the accident, which gives them wider reach to look at the cable-car company’s records. The primary question is why the safety cable did not work. The car took around 10 seconds to reach the ground, painting a horrifying picture of terror for those inside, who would likely have been very aware of what was happening.
The accident happened as the cable car approached the station nearly a mile above the lake. Several witnesses reported hearing a loud hissing sound before the cable snapped. The cable car then smashed and rolled into a wooded area which does not have road access. Emergency rescue workers at the scene arrived on foot or were airlifted in. An official at the scene said bodies were strewn between where the car first hit and then rolled.
The journey takes around 20 minutes and is mostly used by weekenders visiting the lake for tourism. Officials with the alpine rescue squad said foreign nationals were among the victims, but that because of COVID-19 measures, the cable car was not filled to its capacity.
Investigators are looking into whether the system, which recently reopened after months of closure, had been properly maintained.