News Italian police arrest three over cable car disaster as patchwork repair revealed as cause

Italian police arrest three over cable car disaster as patchwork repair revealed as cause

Twitter Facebook Reddit Pinterest Email

Police in northern Italy have arrested three people over the cable car disaster that killed 14 people at the weekend.

It came as an investigation showed a clamp installed on the brake as a patchwork repair effort prevented the brake from engaging after a cable snapped.

On Sunday, the gondola on a cableway connecting the town of Stresa, on the shores of Lake Maggiore, to the nearby Mottarone mountain, plunged to the ground, killing all on board apart from a five-year-old boy.

Italian prosecutors have opened an investigation into suspected involuntary manslaughter and negligence.

Police said they had arrested the owner of the company that managed the cableway, its director and the manager of the cableway.

Carabinieri Lieutenant Colonel Alberto Cicognani told Italian state television the three people had admitted being involved in the work carried out on the cable car during questioning.

He said the fork-shaped clamp was put on the brake to prevent it from engaging because it had been braking spontaneously and stopping the cable car from working.

He said the clamp was put on several weeks ago as a temporary fix to prevent further interruptions.

The cable car line went back into service on April 26 after a winter coronavirus-linked shutdown.

italy cable car
Rescuers at the scene of the fallen cable car, where 14 people died. Photo: AAP

On Sunday, the braking mechanism on the wire bearing the weight of the cabin failed to engage and the gondola slid backwards before apparently hitting a pylon and tumbling to earth, where it rolled down the steep slope before hitting trees.

The company that owns the cable car, Ferrovie Mottarone, was not immediately available for comment.

The cable car underwent major maintenance work between 2014 and 2016.

Checks were carried out in 2017 and again last year by specialist technicians.

The five-year-old boy remains in hospital.