Italian cable car plunges to the ground, killing 14

On a tree-covered mountainside, with a lake and mountains in the distance, rescuers stand alongside wreckage and gear.
Rescuers work by the wreckage of a cable car after it collapsed near the summit of the Stresa-Mottarone line in the Piedmont region of northern Italy on Sunday.
(Soccorso Alpino e Speleologico Piemontese via AP)

A cable car taking visitors to a mountaintop view of some of northern Italy’s most picturesque lakes plummeted to the ground Sunday and then tumbled down the slope, killing 14 people. A young child, among the injured, was hospitalized in serious condition with broken bones, authorities said.

Stresa Mayor Marcella Severino said it appeared that a cable broke, sending the car careening until it hit a pylon and 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.

Images from the site showed the crumpled car in a clearing of a thick patch of pine trees near the summit of the Mottarone peak overlooking Lake Maggiore.


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

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The plunge on the Stresa-Mottarone line happened about 100 yards before the final pylon, in a spot where the cables were particularly high off the ground, said Walter Milan, spokesman for Italy’s Alpine rescue service.

Milan noted that the cable line had been renovated in 2016 and had only recently reopened after coronavirus lockdowns in Italy curtailed travel and forced the suspension of many leisure activities. Milan suggested many families might have flocked to the mountain on a sunny Sunday after months of restrictions.

The line is popular with tourists and locals alike to scale Mottarone, which reaches a height of 4,900 feet and overlooks several picturesque lakes and the surrounding Alps of Italy’s Piedmont region.

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


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

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.

Although 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.