Italy cable car accident: at least 12 dead near Lake Maggiore

The cable car fell near Lake Maggiore in the north of the country, killing at least 12 people

The cable car wreckage near the summit of the Mottarone mountain (National Alpine Speleological Rescue Corps)

At least 12 people have died after a cable car fell to the ground in northern Italy near Lake Maggiore, emergency officials said.

The accident happened on the line linking the town of Stresa, on the shore of the lake, to the Mottarone mountain in the Piedmont region.

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Officials said two children, understood to be aged five and nine, are in hospital in Turin with serious injuries after they were airlifted from the scene.

The site of the incident posted by Italy's emergency department (Vigili del Fuoco)

Alpine rescue services posted a Tweet confirming the latest death toll, but warned the total number of victims could still rise.

A number of services, including police and fire services, remain at the scene according to local media reports.

Officials said a call to emergency services came shortly after 12pm local time on Sunday (23 May).

Eleven passengers had been on board when the cable car plunged into a heavily wooded area, a spokesman for Italy’s alpine rescue service confirmed to the Reuters news agency.

Another alpine rescue service spokesman Walter Milan said the cable car fell near the summit of the mountain and was very high off the ground.

He said the line had been closed in 2014 during a €4.4million renovation before it opened again in 2016.

It had only resumed service on 24 April this year after Covid lockdowns in Italy led to the closure of ski lifts.

"It is a very serious accident," he told RaiNews24 television, adding the cable car was left “crumpled” from the fall.

It is not clear what caused the accident but local media reports said the cable carrying the car may have failed about 300m from the mountain’s summit.

The cable car usually takes 20 minutes to take passengers 1,491m (4,900ft) above sea level to the top of the mountain, according to the website for the line.

The Minister of Sustainable Infrastructure and Mobility Enrico Giovannini said: "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.”