Witnesses to the Italian car cable fall that killed 14 people heard a “loud hiss” – apparently when the line snapped, the local mayor has said.
It comes as the sole survivor of the tragedy was named as five-year-old Eitan Biran, an Israeli boy living in Italy, whose parents, younger brother, and great-grandparents were killed.
Israel‘s foreign ministry confirmed his identity and said his aunt was at his bedside in Turin, capital of the northern Piedmont region, where he is being treated for injuries including multiple broken bones.
His parents, Amit Biran and Tal Peleg-Biran, were studying and working in Pavia, a city south of Milan, the ministry added. Their two-year-old son, Tom, also died.
Eitan’s great-grandparents, Barbara and Yitzhak Cohen, had arrived in Italy on 19 May to visit the family.
The cable car fell some 15m (50ft) at around noon Sunday near the summit of Mottarone mountain, close to Lake Maggiore in northern Italy.
It is said to have tumbled down the slope two or three times before hitting trees.
Italian media said the other victims were all residents of the country, and included a six-year-old boy who died in hospital despite multiple attempts to restart his heart.
Another couple, Roberta Pistolato and Angelo Vito Gasparro, were celebrating Mr Gasparro’s 45th birthday.
Italy’s La Stampa said Ms Pistolato had texted her sister, telling her: “We’re going up in the funicular. It’s paradise here.”
The mayor of the nearby town of Stresa, Marcella Severino, said witnesses reported a “loud hiss” – apparently as the lead cable gave way.
She said the car went back down the line until and is believed to have hit a pylon before falling to the ground.
Some victims were found among the trees after being thrown out of the car, the mayor added.
“It was a terrible, terrible scene,” Ms Severino told SkyTG24.
An inquiry has been set up to investigate the “technical and organisational causes” and prosecutors will look at possible criminal charges, said transport minister Enrico Giovannini.
The whole lift structure was renovated in August 2016 – and Mr Giovannini said inspections of the main cable, the support cable and rescue cables were done late last year.
Another visual check was performed in December, the ministry said.
The Stresa-Mottarone line takes around 20 minutes and promises a view of seven lakes from its peak of 1,491 metres (4,900ft), and the cable car has a capacity of about 40.
It only reopened a few weeks ago and it’s thought people were taking advantage of the good weather to see the view.
There is also a small amusement park on the mountain with a children’s rollercoaster, as well as biking and hiking trails in the area.
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