An Israeli child on Monday was still battling for his life in Italy after his baby brother, parents and maternal great-grandparents all perished when a cable car slammed into the side of a mountain in an Alpine resort town.
The accident in Stresa occurred around on Sunday afternoon as the cabin, with 15 people aboard and a maximum capacity of 35, was about 100 meters from the summit. Fourteen out of 15 passengers, including five Israelis, lost their lives in the incident.
The Israeli victims have been identified as Amit Biran, 30, his wife Tal, 26, their two-year-old son Tom, and both of mother’s grandparents – Itzhak, 81, and Barbara Cohen, 71. The only survivor of the tragedy is the young couple’s five-year-old son Eitan, who was very seriously injured and is currently hospitalized at Turin’s Regina Margherita hospital.
The child is currently being cared for by Amit’s sister Aya, while Tal’s brother and father were set to fly to Italy later in the day.
According to relatives, Amit and Tal lived in the city of Fabia in the province of Lombardy in northern Italy. Amit studied medicine there, and worked as a security guard at a Jewish school in the city.
Tal’s great-grandparents lived in Israel and arrived in Italy to visit their granddaughter just four days before the disaster.
“I lost my brother Amit, my sister-in-law Tal and little Tom,” Amit’s sister Aya told Italian media. “I found out [about the tragedy] through SMS texts from friends who wrote me messages of condolence. I did not know at first what had happened and at first I thought another missile had fallen in Israel. So, I called my brother and he did not answer, neither did my sister-in-law. At that moment I realized something had happened.”
Aya, who’s been living in Italy for the past 17 years, said the toddler suffered a very complicated head injury in the crash.
The 20-minute cable car ride, popular with tourists, links Stresa with the 1,500-metre (4,900-foot) summit of the Mottarone mountain, and offers spectacular views of the Alps.
Italy’s Infrastructure Minister Enrico Giovannini announced an enquiry into what he called “a dramatic occurrence which we are following most attentively”. Milan prosecutors opened an investigation into involuntary homicide and negligence.
The cable car was closed between 2014 and 2016 for maintenance work.