At least eight people have died and two children have been seriously injured after a horror accident in which a mountaintop cable car plunged to the ground in northern Italy.
The cable car is thought to have come off while taking passengers to the top of the Stresa-Mottarone line in the Piedmont region earlier today.
The line overlooks Lake Maggiore – a popular tourist spot near to the resort town of Stresa.
It is believed the cable car, which takes around 20 minutes to reach the mountain station at 5,000 feet above sea level, was about 1,000 feet from reaching its destination when it plunged to the ground.
Italy’s Alpine rescue service today said that, along with the eight dead, three people have been airlifted to Turin hospital. It is believed of the three injured, two are children, according to local officials.
No details of ages of nationalities have yet been released by authorities in Italy, though both injured children are believed to be younger than 10.
Eight people have died after a mountaintop cable car plunged to the ground in northern Italy , as two children are airlifted to hospital
The cable car is thought to have come off the line while taking passengers to the top of the Stresa-Mottarone in the Piedmont region earlier today
It is believed the cable car, which takes around 20 minutes to reach the 5,000ft mountain station, was about 1,000 feet from reaching its destination when it fell. Pictured: Rescuers at the scene
The accident may have been caused by a broken cable at the top of the system, the ANSA news agency said.
It is believed 11 people were in the cable car at the time.
‘It is a very serious accident,’ Walter Milan, a spokesman for the national alpine rescue service told RaiNews24 television.
One person who saw the crash told MailOnline: ‘It was a very steep drop, so the cable car tumbled for a while before stopping against some trees.
‘The police (and others) are at the scene of the incident and are trying to identify the people.
‘It is a devastating morning for all of us.’
The rescue call arrived just after midday and the cable car had fallen from very high and was now sitting, ‘crumpled’ in the woods below, Milan added.
The cable car fell 984 feet from the summit on the Stresa-Mottarone line in the Piedmont region on May 23
He noted that the cable line had been renovated in 2016 and had only recently reopened after coronavirus lockdowns forced the closures of ski lifts across Italy.
According to newspaper Corriere Della Serra, two children have been taken by air ambulance to hospital in Turin.
The youngest child, a boy, suffered head trauma, thoracoabdominal trauma and lower limb fractures but is still conscious, according to Sky Italia reported.
Meanwhile Corriere Della Serra said that rescue efforts have been made more difficult by the fact that the cabin fell into a wood in an inaccessible area.
According to Vigili del Fuoco, the Italian fire service, emergency crews are currently working at the area.
They Tweeted: ‘A cabin of the cable car connecting Stresa-Alpino-Mottarone fell. There are people dead, the toll is provisional.
‘Teams #vigilidelfuoco at work. On the spot the helicopter of the Varese flight department’.
The national alpine rescue service said on Twitter: ‘Serious accident on the Stresa- Mottarone cable car.
‘Alpine rescue, and other rescue teams on site. Two helicopter ambulances intervened.’
The Mottarone cable car reaches a height of 4,900 feet and takes tourists from the town of Stresa, to the top of the mountain, in 20 minutes.
Mount Mottarone is considered a ‘natural balcony’ and boasts panoramic views across the Po Valley to the Alps.
Seven lakes are visible from the summit, which is a 15 minute walk from the cable car station, they include Lake Maggiore, Italy’s second largest, Lake Orta and Lake Mergozzo.
Alpine rescue service spokesman Walter Milan said that the car was ‘very high off the ground’ and another three people have been taken to hospital (stock image)
The area became popular in the early 1900’s when the area opened up for skiing and winter sports.
Since it has seen many people go to enjoy scenic walks, including the Mottarone Alpino Stressa route, a four hour walk from the top of Mottarone which is reached by cable car.
Under a traffic light system, British holidaymakers can travel to a small list of 12 green list countries – including Portugal – without having to quarantine on their return.
Italy is currently on the Amber list which requires them to quarantine for 14 days at home upon return, but they avoid the expensive hotel quarantine required for people visiting red list states.