Italy’s Alpine rescue service says that 14 people have been killed after a cable car plunged to the ground on a mountainside in the country’s north.
The Italian government launched an investigation to determine the causes of the crash on the Stresa-Mottarone line in the Piedmont region.
One of those killed was a child, estimated to be around nine years old, who died in hospital after suffering two cardiac arrests, medical officials said.
Another child, thought to be five years old, remains in paediatric hospital in Turin. The child required surgery to stabilise multiple fractures but was conscious on arrival.
The cable car fell near the summit of the Stresa-Mottarone line almost 5,000 feet above sea level, Alpine rescue service spokesman Walter Milan said.
Mr Milan told RailNews24 television that a “very serious accident” had occurred.
He added that the car had fallen from a considerable height and was now “crumpled” in the woods below. Rescue services were reportedly called around midday.
Mr Milan said that 15 people had been travelling in the cable car at the time of the accident. Earlier media reports suggested that that figure was 11. Earlier reports also suggested a third person had been taken to hospital, but medics said this was not the case.
Several foreign nationals, including three Israelis and an Iran-born man, were killed along with Italian citizens in the cable car crash, according to local media reports.
Local police told Italy’s Adnkronos news agency the cab fell after a supporting cable on the line snapped.
Italy’s infrastructure minister, Enrico Giovannini, followed the rescue effort, which involved three helicopters, fire crews, police and mountain rescue services.
He said in a statement: “A terrible tragedy, 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.”
The lift, which takes tourists and locals 4,900ft above sea level in 20 minutes, had recently reopened as coronavirus restrictions are gradually being lifted in Italy.
The Stresa-Mottarone cable line was subject to major renovations in August 2016, with several checks taking place since, the Italian Ministry of Sustainable Infrastructures and Mobility (Mims) said.
Speaking to reporters on Sunday, local mayor Marcella Severino said: “It’s a terrible moment for me and for our community and I think also for the whole of Italy.”
Mottarone overlooks Lake Maggiore and the surrounding Alps of the Piedmont region. A small amusement park, Alpyland, offers views of the scenery from a children’s rollercoaster.