Three arrested over Italy cable car crash that killed 14

Prosecutors say one of the men admitted to disabling the brakes

Wreckage from the cable car crashed down the mountain. EPA
Wreckage from the cable car crashed down the mountain. EPA

Three men have been arrested after a cable car crash killed 14 people in northern Italy, with prosecutors alleging they knew of technical problems but kept the system running for financial reasons.

The owner of the cable car company and two employees were aware the system was not working properly and deliberately placed clamps on the emergency brakes to prevent them from constantly kicking in, prosecutors said in a legal filing.

"The charges are extremely serious due to the deliberate intention to circumvent the security system for reasons of profit, totally disregarding basic safety rules," said the detention order drawn up by the prosecutors.

The cable car, connecting the northern town of Stresa on the shores of Lake Maggiore to nearby Mottarone mountain, plunged to the ground on Sunday after the lead cable snapped.

The sole survivor was a five-year-old Israeli boy, Eitan Biran, whose younger brother, parents and great-grandparents were among the victims.

Prosecutors wrote that one of the three men admitted to disabling the brakes in agreement with the other two to prevent having to shut down the popular lift, which is near the Swiss border and provides spectacular views of the surrounding Alps.

"They had chosen to endanger the lives of other people for their own profit," chief prosecutor Olimpia Bossi said, and added that investigators still did not know why the lead cable had snapped.

Lawyers for the three men have not made any public comment.

Wreckage from the cable car crashed down the mountain. EPA
Wreckage from the cable car crashed down the mountain. EPA

The cable car was closed for much of the year due to pandemic restrictions.

Service only resumed last month, but prosecutors believe the technical problems surfaced almost immediately, meaning the brakes might have been disabled for several weeks.

The first funerals of some of the victims took place in both Italy and Israel on Thursday.

Eitan, the sole survivor, is still in hospital and is responding to treatment, his doctors said.

Published: May 28, 2021 11:43 PM


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