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At least 14 dead after Italian cable car plunges to the ground

Click to play video: '13 dead, 2 children injured in Italian cable car accident' 13 dead, 2 children injured in Italian cable car accident
WATCH: 9 dead, 2 children injured in Italian cable car accident – May 23, 2021

A mountaintop cable car plunged to the ground in northern Italy on Sunday, killing at least 14 people. A young child was hospitalized in serious condition with broken bones, authorities said.

Stesa Mayor Marcella Severino said it appeared that a cable broke, sending the car careening until it hit a pylon and then fell to the ground. At that point, the car overturned “two or three times before hitting some trees,” she said. Some of those who died were thrown from the cabin.

A photo of the wreckage taken by Italy’s fire squad showed the crushed and crumpled remains of the cable car in a clearing of a thick patch of pine trees near the summit of the Mottarone peak overlooking Lake Maggiore.

Rescuers work by the wreckage of a cable car after it collapsed near the summit of the Stresa-Mottarone line in the Piedmont region, northern Italy, Sunday, May 23, 2022. A cable car taking visitors to a mountaintop view of some of northern Italy’s most picturesque lakes plunged to the ground Sunday, killing at least nine people and sending two children to the hospital, authorities said. (AP). Italian Police via AP

“It was a terrible, terrible scene,” Severino told Italy’s SkyTG24. She said that in addition to the two children, a third person was injured.

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At that location, the cables of the ski lift were particularly high off the ground, said Walter Milan, spokesman for the Alpine rescue service. The cause has not been determined.

Milan noted that the cable line had been renovated in 2016 and had only recently reopened after coronavirus lockdowns forced the closures of ski lifts across Italy. Milan suggested many families may have flocked to the mountain on a sunny Sunday after months of restrictions.

Read more: Italy landslide dumps hundreds of cemetery coffins into the sea

Mottarone reaches a height of 1,491 meters (4,900 feet) and overlooks the picturesque lake and the surrounding Alps of Italy’s Piedmont region. The mountain features a small amusement park, Alpyland, that has a children’s rollercoaster offering 360-degree views of the scenery.

Many Italian ski areas feature mountain bike paths and hiking trails that are popular in spring and summer.

The wreckage of a cable car is seen on the ground after it collapsed near the summit of the Stresa-Mottarone line in the Piedmont region, northern Italy, Sunday, May 23, 2022. (AP). (Vigili del Fuoco via AP)

Premier Mario Draghi offered his condolences to the families of the victims “with a particular thought about the seriously injured children and their families.”

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It appeared to be Italy’s worst cable car disaster since 1998 when a low-flying U.S. military jet cut through the cable of a ski lift in Cavalese, in the Dolomites, killing 20 people.

Italy’s transport minister, Enrico Giovannini, was following the rescue effort, which involved deploying three helicopters to the mountainside. He 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. He planned to visit the site Monday.

Rescuers work by the wreckage of a cable car after it collapsed near the summit of the Stresa-Mottarone line in the Piedmont region, northern Italy, Sunday, May 23, 2021. (Italian Vigili del Fuoco Firefighters via AP).

While the cause hasn’t been determined, it’s the latest episode to raise questions about the quality of Italy’s transport infrastructure. In 2018, the Morandi bridge in Genoa collapsed after years of neglect, killing 43 people.
In 2009, a freight train carrying gas derailed at the Viareggio station, near Lucca, and exploded, killing 32 people. Poorly maintained axles of the train were blamed.

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President Sergio Mattarella, in offering his condolences, called for the “rigorous respect of all security norms” in transportation.

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