A cable car linking Italy’s Lake Maggiore with a nearby mountain in the Alps plunged to the ground.
Criminal charges are being explored as part of the investigation into Italy’s cable car disaster that killed 14 people, an Italian prosecutor said on Monday.
The investigation will focus on why the lead cable snapped and why the emergency brake did not engage and prevent the cabin from careening back down the mountain until it pulled off the support line and crashed to the ground, lead prosecutor Olimpia Bossi announced.
Bossi outlined the contours of her investigation based on what she said was objective, empirical fact of what occurred: “The brake system clearly did not work because otherwise, the cable car would have stopped,” said the Verbania prosecutor.
“Why that happened is naturally under investigation,” Bossi added.
In on-camera comments to LaPresse news agency and other reporters in her office, Bossi noted that the emergency brake had engaged on the other cable car that was travelling in the opposite direction, down the mountain.
She said the possible crimes that are being investigated are multiple manslaughter, attempted manslaughter and an “attack on public transport”.
Bossi acknowledged the transport crime was an unusual hypothesis, but justified it by recalling that a cable car up and down a mountain is a form of public transport.
The disaster, in one of the most picturesque spots in northern Italy – the Mottarone mountaintop overlooking Lake Maggiore and other lakes near Switzerland, raised questions anew about the quality and safety of Italy’s transport infrastructure.
The transport ministry said a preliminary check of the cable line’s safety and maintenance record showed that the whole lift structure underwent a renovation in August 2016, and that a full maintenance check was performed in 2017 and more inspections last year.
In November and December 2020, other checks were performed on the cables themselves. In December, another visual check was performed, the ministry said.
The crash killed all 14 people on board apart from a five-year-old Israeli boy.
The child, whose parents, grandparents and two-year-old sibling were killed in Sunday’s accident, was hospitalised in a critical state, but there were hopes for his recovery.
“He is still under intensive care, intubated and sedated … Tomorrow, doctors will slowly try to wake him up and are cautiously optimistic,” a spokesman for the Citta della Salute hospital in Turin told the AFP news agency.
Italian media identified all the other victims as residents of Italy.