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26 May, 2021 13:55

3 men arrested over Italy cable car tragedy that killed 14 people as involuntary manslaughter probe is launched

3 men arrested over Italy cable car tragedy that killed 14 people as involuntary manslaughter probe is launched

Italian police have arrested three men over a cable car accident that killed 14 people, saying the suspects have admitted that the emergency brake system had been disabled.

On Sunday, the cable car fell from a height of 20 meters from the line, located between the town of Stresa and the Mottarone mountain in the Italian Alps, after the cable it was traveling along snapped.

The car was traveling at over 100 kilometers per hour when it unhooked and plunged to the ground, killing 14 of the 15 passengers. The sole survivor was an Israeli child who remains seriously injured in hospital.

Prosecutors have launched an investigation into suspected involuntary manslaughter and negligence.

Lieutenant Colonel Alberto Cicognani, of Italy’s Carabinieri police, confirmed to Italian broadcaster RAI on Wednesday that three unnamed suspects had been arrested on Tuesday night in connection with the cable car crash.

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They have been identified by local paper Corriere della Sera as the owner of the cable car company, the director and the head of operations.

Cicognani said the suspects have admitted to applying a fork-shaped clamp to the emergency brake in response to malfunctions in the cable car. The men are alleged to have used the clamp to prevent the car from getting stuck on the cableway due to faulty brakes, which automatically kept stopping the car.

Prosecutor Olimpia Bossi said the incident is “certainly very serious and very disturbing,” adding that the men had known about the braking issues for several weeks.

According to Italian paper La Stampa, fixing the brake issues would have meant another prolonged closure for the site, which had opened up again in late April after the Covid-19 lockdown.

At around 12pm (6am ET) on Sunday, the cable car dropped from the suspended line as it neared the end of its journey towards the peak of the Mottarone mountain, having already made some runs. Investigators do not yet know why the steel cable the car was traveling on snapped.

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