Mountaintop cable car kills 13 passengers as it plunges to the ground in northern Italy 

Thirteen people have died and two children have been seriously injured today after a horror accident in which a mountaintop cable car plunged 65ft to the ground in northern Italy.

The cable car, which reopened only a month ago following a coronavirus lockdown, is thought to have been carrying 15 people to the top of the Stresa-Mottarone line in the Piedmont region of the Italian Alps and was just 1,000ft from the 4,900ft-high station when it dropped.

Local mayor Marcella Severino told national broadcaster RAI the lift plunged some 65ft and rolled several times down the steep slopes before it was stopped by trees. She added that people hiking on the mountain overlooking Stresa said they had heard a loud hiss just before the crash.

The National Alpine rescue service said a call came just after 12pm Italian time and that the cable car was ‘crumpled’ in the woods. The accident is believed to have been caused by one of the cables breaking, and is likely to raise questions about the quality of Italy’s transport infrastructure.

The rescue service said the ‘final toll of the tragic accident’ was 13 dead and two injured. The only survivors are two children aged five and nine, who have been airlifted to a paediatric hospital in the nearby city of Turin.

Severino told SKY television that some of the victims had been found trapped inside the car, with others thrown out into the woods. Another injured person, an adult, was also been taken to hospital by helicopter, she added.

The mayor said: ‘We are devastated, in pain’, while Italian transport minister Enrico Giovannini described the incident as a ‘terrible tragedy’, adding: ‘I have already spoken with the prefect and the director of the Fire Brigade and Civil Protection. We are trying to understand what has happened, but it is a truly terrible tragedy.’   

Italian premier Mario Draghi voiced his condolences to the families of the victims, ‘with a special thought’ for the injured children. Coroners had started identifying the victims, who included foreign nationals, Severino said. No further details were given by officials.  

At least 12 people have died and two children have been seriously injured after a horror accident in which a mountaintop cable car plunged to the ground in northern Italy

At least 12 people have died and two children have been seriously injured after a horror accident in which a mountaintop cable car plunged to the ground in northern Italy

At least 12 people have died and two children have been seriously injured after a horror accident in which a mountaintop cable car plunged to the ground in northern Italy

A photo taken and obtained on May 23, 2021 from Italian News agency Ansa shows a cable car that crashed to the ground in the resort town of Stresa on the shores of Lake Maggiore in the Piedmont region

A photo taken and obtained on May 23, 2021 from Italian News agency Ansa shows a cable car that crashed to the ground in the resort town of Stresa on the shores of Lake Maggiore in the Piedmont region

A photo taken and obtained on May 23, 2021 from Italian News agency Ansa shows a cable car that crashed to the ground in the resort town of Stresa on the shores of Lake Maggiore in the Piedmont region

It is believed the cable car, which takes around 20 minutes to reach the 5,000ft high mountain station, was about 1,000ft from its destination when it plunged to the ground

It is believed the cable car, which takes around 20 minutes to reach the 5,000ft high mountain station, was about 1,000ft from its destination when it plunged to the ground

It is believed the cable car, which takes around 20 minutes to reach the 5,000ft high mountain station, was about 1,000ft from its destination when it plunged to the ground

No details of ages of nationalities have yet been released by authorities in Italy, though both injured children are believed to be younger than 10. Pictured: Rescuers at the scene

No details of ages of nationalities have yet been released by authorities in Italy, though both injured children are believed to be younger than 10. Pictured: Rescuers at the scene

No details of ages of nationalities have yet been released by authorities in Italy, though both injured children are believed to be younger than 10. Pictured: Rescuers at the scene

Italy's Alpine rescue service today said that, along with the 12 dead, three people have been airlifted to Turin hospital. It is believed of the three injured, two are children, according to local officials

Italy's Alpine rescue service today said that, along with the 12 dead, three people have been airlifted to Turin hospital. It is believed of the three injured, two are children, according to local officials

Italy’s Alpine rescue service today said that, along with the 12 dead, three people have been airlifted to Turin hospital. It is believed of the three injured, two are children, according to local officials








The Mottarone cable car and lakeside town Stresa popular with UK tourists

The Mottarone cable car was opened in 1970. It reaches a height of 4,900 feet and takes tourists from the town of Stresa, to the top of the mountain, in 20 minutes.  

Mount Mottarone is considered a ‘natural balcony’ and boasts panoramic views across the Po Valley to the Alps. 

Seven lakes are visible from the summit, which is a 15 minute walk from the cable car station, they include Lake Maggiore, Italy’s second largest, Lake Orta and Lake Mergozzo.

The area became popular in the early 1900s when the area opened up for skiing and winter sports.   

Since it has seen many people go to enjoy scenic walks, including the Mottarone Alpino Stressa route, a four hour walk from the top of Mottarone which is reached by cable car.

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The accident may have been caused by a broken cable at the top of the system, according to ANSA news agency. 

‘It is a very serious accident,’ Walter Milan, a spokesman for the national alpine rescue service told RaiNews24 television.  

The rescue call arrived just after 12pm and the cable car had fallen from very high and was now sitting, ‘crumpled’ in the woods below, Milan added. 

He 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.   

The cable car service first opened in August 1970 after almost three years of works to replace a cog railway, its website said.

The dual cable system is split into two sections, just over two kilometres between Stresa and Alpino and another three kilometres between Alpino and Mottarone. It consist of two cars – in alternate directions – with each one carrying up to 40 passengers, it added.

The mountain hosts a small amusement park, Alpyland, that has a children’s rollercoaster, and the area also has mountain bike paths and hiking trails. 

Severino said that important maintenance works, including changing the cables, had been carried out in recent years. ‘All of this is hard to believe,’ she said.

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

It is 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. 

One person who saw the crash told MailOnline: ‘It was a very steep drop, so the cable car tumbled for a while before stopping against some trees. 

‘The police (and others) are at the scene of the incident and are trying to identify the people. It is a devastating morning for all of us.’ 

Today Italy's transport minister Enrico Giovannini described the incident as a 'terrible tragedy'. He said he was in touch with rescue teams at the scene (pictured)

Today Italy's transport minister Enrico Giovannini described the incident as a 'terrible tragedy'. He said he was in touch with rescue teams at the scene (pictured)

Today Italy’s transport minister Enrico Giovannini described the incident as a ‘terrible tragedy’. He said he was in touch with rescue teams at the scene (pictured)

The accident may have been caused by a broken cable at the top of the system, according to ANSA news agency. It is believed as many as 15 people were in the cable car at the time

The accident may have been caused by a broken cable at the top of the system, according to ANSA news agency. It is believed as many as 15 people were in the cable car at the time

The accident may have been caused by a broken cable at the top of the system, according to ANSA news agency. It is believed as many as 15 people were in the cable car at the time 

The rescue call arrived just after midday and the cable car had fallen from very high and was now sitting, 'crumpled' in the woods below, Milan added

The rescue call arrived just after midday and the cable car had fallen from very high and was now sitting, 'crumpled' in the woods below, Milan added

The rescue call arrived just after midday and the cable car had fallen from very high and was now sitting, ‘crumpled’ in the woods below, Milan added

According to newspaper Corriere Della Serra, two children have been taken by air ambulance to hospital in Turin. The youngest child, a boy, suffered head trauma, thoracoabdominal trauma and lower limb fractures but is still conscious, according to Sky Italia

According to newspaper Corriere Della Serra, two children have been taken by air ambulance to hospital in Turin. The youngest child, a boy, suffered head trauma, thoracoabdominal trauma and lower limb fractures but is still conscious, according to Sky Italia

According to newspaper Corriere Della Serra, two children have been taken by air ambulance to hospital in Turin. The youngest child, a boy, suffered head trauma, thoracoabdominal trauma and lower limb fractures but is still conscious, according to Sky Italia

The Italian Firefighters 'Vigili del Fuoco' shows rescuers 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

The Italian Firefighters 'Vigili del Fuoco' shows rescuers 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

The Italian Firefighters ‘Vigili del Fuoco’ shows rescuers 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

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 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 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








'It is a very serious accident,' Walter Milan, a spokesman for the national alpine rescue service told RaiNews24 television. Pictured: A library image of the Lago Maggiore cable car

'It is a very serious accident,' Walter Milan, a spokesman for the national alpine rescue service told RaiNews24 television. Pictured: A library image of the Lago Maggiore cable car

‘It is a very serious accident,’ Walter Milan, a spokesman for the national alpine rescue service told RaiNews24 television. Pictured: A library image of the Lago Maggiore cable car

The cable car connects Stresa with Mottarone. Pictured: A general view of the Mottarone cable car station, in northern Italy

The cable car connects Stresa with Mottarone. Pictured: A general view of the Mottarone cable car station, in northern Italy

The cable car connects Stresa with Mottarone. Pictured: A general view of the Mottarone cable car station, in northern Italy

According to newspaper Corriere Della Serra, two children have been taken by air ambulance to hospital in Turin. 

The youngest child, a boy, suffered head trauma, thoracoabdominal trauma and lower limb fractures but is still conscious, according to Sky Italia. 

Meanwhile Corriere Della Serra said that rescue efforts have been made more difficult by the fact that the cabin fell into a wood in an inaccessible area. 

The Italian fire service, emergency crews are currently working at the area. 

They Tweeted: ‘A cabin of the cable car connecting Stresa-Alpino-Mottarone fell. There are people dead, the toll is provisional.

‘Teams #vigilidelfuoco at work. On the spot the helicopter of the Varese flight department’.  

The national alpine rescue service said on Twitter: ‘Serious accident on the Stresa-Mottarone cable car. 

‘Alpine rescue, and other rescue teams on site. Two helicopter ambulances intervened.’ 

The incident comes 20 years after 40 tourists had to be rescued after a cable car got stuck on the line in 2001.

The tourists had to be rescued after the cable car stopped shortly after leaving the terminal in Stresa. 

The Mottarone cable car was opened in 1970. It reaches a height of 4,900 feet and takes tourists from the town of Stresa, to the top of the mountain, in 20 minutes.  

Mount Mottarone is considered a ‘natural balcony’ and boasts panoramic views across the Po Valley to the Alps. 

Seven lakes are visible from the summit, which is a 15 minute walk from the cable car station, they include Lake Maggiore, Italy’s second largest, Lake Orta and Lake Mergozzo.

Alpine rescue service spokesman Walter Milan said that the car was 'very high off the ground' and another three people have been taken to hospital (stock image)

Alpine rescue service spokesman Walter Milan said that the car was 'very high off the ground' and another three people have been taken to hospital (stock image)

Alpine rescue service spokesman Walter Milan said that the car was ‘very high off the ground’ and another three people have been taken to hospital (stock image) 

The area became popular in the early 1900s when the area opened up for skiing and winter sports.   

Since it has seen many people go to enjoy scenic walks, including the Mottarone Alpino Stressa route, a four hour walk from the top of Mottarone which is reached by cable car.

Under a traffic light system, British holidaymakers can travel to a small list of 12 green list countries – including Portugal – without having to quarantine on their return.  

Italy is currently on the Amber list which requires them to quarantine for 14 days at home upon return, but they avoid the expensive hotel quarantine required for people visiting red list states.  

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