The Stresa-Mottarone cable car takes tourists and locals alike to the famous town of Stresa on Lake Maggiore almost 1,400 meters above sea level to the top of Mottarone Mountain in 20 minutes.
“We are devastated, in pain,” Marcella Severino, mayor of Stresa, told the national channel RAI, while Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi expressed his condolences to the families of the victims, “with a special thought” for the children. wounded.
The Infrastructure Ministry said in a statement that the crash happened at around 12:30 p.m. (10:30 GMT) on Sunday when the cabin was about 100 meters (328 feet) from the summit.
Rescue teams continued to search the area given possible indications that a 15th person may have been in the cable car, said Walter Milan, spokesperson for the Italian Alpine Rescue Service
Milan earlier told RaiNews24 television that two children aged nine and five were taken by helicopter to a pediatric hospital in the nearby northern city of Turin.
Milan said the cable car had fallen from a very high point and was now “crumpled” in the woods below.
Images from firefighters show debris from the cabin in a wooded area where a steep slope makes access difficult.
The crash may have been caused by a broken cable at the top of the system, Italian news agency ANSA said.
Mottarone Peak is popular among tourists because of its panoramic views of Lake Maggiore and its picturesque islands as well as the views of the surrounding Alps.
The cable car service opened in August 1970 after nearly three years of work to replace a cog railway, its website says.
The double cable system is divided into two sections, just over 2 km (1.2 miles) between Stresa and Alpino and 3 km (1.9 miles) between Alpino and Mottarone.
Authorities say the cable line was renovated in 2016 and only recently reopened after coronavirus lockouts forced ski lifts across Italy to close.