At least 13 people have died and three were seriously injured when a cable car linking Italy’s Lake Maggiore with a nearby mountain in the Alps collapsed.
The Stresa-Mottarone cable car takes tourists and locals from the town on Lake Maggiore, almost 1,400 metres above sea level to the top of the Mottarone mountain in 20 minutes.
The accident happened as the cable car was travelling up the mountain, with the cabin dropping some 20 metres and rolling several times down the steep slopes before it was stopped by trees.
“We are devastated, in pain,” Marcella Severino, Stresa’s mayor told national broadcaster RAI, while Italian Prime Minister 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, she said, without giving further details.
Luca Cari, a fire brigade spokesman, said it was still not clear how many people were in the cable car.
“Our teams are still pulling bodies out,” Cari added.
The Mottarone peak is popular among tourists because of its panoramic views on Lake Maggiore and its picturesque islands as well as the vista of the surrounding Alps.
The cable car service first opened in August 1970 after almost three years of works to replace a cog railway, its website said
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.