Francesco Cotti, the chief coordinator of the region’s civil protection agency and one of the first rescuers to reach the top of the mountain, called the scene of the accident “devastating”. He said the tragedy would be a blow to tourism in a region where the economy had already been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.
Stresa was unusually quiet on Monday as residents expressed shock. “It’s a tragedy that shouldn’t have happened, here or anywhere,” said Samantha Zanoni while spritzing at Café Savoy.
After months of intermittent coronavirus lockdowns, the tourist season was just beginning, she said, and the crash could not have come at a worse time.
City officials declared a day of mourning on Monday and at noon the bells rang and shops closed for 14 minutes, one for each victim.
Gianpaolo Rosati, an engineering professor at the Polytechnic University of Milan, said cables can break for a variety of reasons, including corrosion or mechanical failures, such as when a winch puts too much strain on them.
Mr Rosati said incidents like this are often a combination of human failure and faulty equipment.
The cable car may have come loose from the support cable that holds the car and cut the cable that pulls it up and down the mountain, he said. In this case, Mr Rosati said, the brakes would not have worked properly, since they work on the support cable.