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Cable car plunges to the ground in Italy, killing at least 14 people

Prime Minister Mario Draghi called it a "tragic accident."

At least 14 people, including a child, were killed when a cable car plunged to the ground in northern Italy on Sunday, officials said.

Marcella Severino, mayor of the town of Stresa, told Reuters that the Stresa-Mottarone cable car dropped 60 feet, adding that the cabin rolled several times down the steep slopes before it was stopped by the trees.

It came down as it was making the 20-minute journey from the town on Lake Maggiore to the summit of the Mottarone mountain in the Alps, almost 4,500 feet above sea level.

IMAGE: Rescuers at the wreckage of a collapsed cable car in northern Italy
Rescuers at 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.Italian Vigili del Fuoco Firefighters via AP

A picture of the wreckage taken by Italy's fire department showed the crushed and crumpled remains of the cable car in a clearing of a thick patch of pine trees near the mountain's summit.

Hikers heard a loud hiss just before the crash, Severino said.

Two children were in serious condition when they arrived at Regina Margherita Hospital in the nearby city of Turin, spokesman Pier Paolo Berra said by telephone.

A boy around age 5 arrived conscious with fractured legs and trauma to his torso and his abdomen, Berra said. A second boy, whose age was not known, was in critical condition, he said, adding that he was not conscious on arrival. He had sustained severe head trauma and had also fractured his legs, he said.

A child later died; the hospital did not specify which one.

Walter Milan, a spokesperson for Italy's Alpine rescue service, said the identities of the other victims were unknown.

Milan separately told The Associated Press that the cable line had been renovated in 2016 and had only recently reopened after coronavirus lockdowns closed ski lifts across Italy.

At the location where the cable car fell, about 300 feet before the final pylon, the cables of the lift were particularly high off the ground, he said.

Image: Cable car accident in Italy
A cable car crashed to the ground in the resort town of Stresa on the shores of Lake Maggiore in the Piedmont region of Italy on Sunday.Vigili del Fuoco / AFP - Getty Images

Prime Minister Mario Draghi sent his condolences to the families of the victims on Twitter for what he said was a "tragic accident."

"A special thought goes to the gravely injured children and their families," he said.

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Mottarone is popular among tourists because of its panoramic views of Lake Maggiore and its picturesque islands, as well as the vista of the surrounding Alps.

The cable car service opened in August 1970 after almost three years of work to replace a cog railway, its website says. The dual cable system is split into two sections, one just over a mile between Stresa and Alpino and the other about 2 more miles between Alpino and Mottarone, it says.

It consists of two cars, in alternate directions, each carrying up to 40 passengers, it says.