Victims of Italian cable car horror are revealed


A family on a day trip to the mountains, a husband and wife celebrating her 40th birthday, and a recent graduate and her fiance have been named among the 14 victims of a cable car crash in Italy. 

Amit Biran, 30, his wife Tal, 26, their two-year-old son Tom and Tal’s parents – Itshak and Barbara Cohen, 82 and 70 – were all killed in the tragedy in Piedmont on Sunday when the cable car they were travelling in plunged 65ft as it went from Stresa, on the shores of Lake Maggiore, to the summit of Mottarone mountain.

The couple had recently returned from Israel, where they were born, to Pavia where Amit worked in medicine at the university, and were on a family day out to the Alps with Tal’s parents when disaster struck. 

Amit and Tal’s eldest son, aged five, was also in the cable car and is currently in serious condition in hospital. 

Alongside the young family was Alessandro Merlo, 29, his fiance Silvia Malnati, 27. The couple had been engaged for 10 years but were planning to marry soon, a friend told told Corriere, prompted by the fact that she had graduated from an economics degree in March and got a job at a perfumery in Milan. 

Also killed in the tragedy were husband and wife Angelo Vito Gasparro, 45, and Roberta Pistolato, who were celebrating her 40th birthday on the day of the accident.

Roberta, who had also recently finished studying in medicine and worked in the city of Piacenza, had sent a text to her sister moments before she died that read: ‘We are going up to the cable car.’

The accident happened just as the cable car was arriving at its final station at the top of Mottarone, when one of the supporting cables snapped. The car fell on to the steep mountainside below, then rolled 500 yards before it crumpled against nearby trees. 

Also among the dead were 54-year-old Vittorio Zorloni, his fiancee Elisabetta Persanini, 38, and the couple’s five-year-old son Mattia. They were due to be married next month, Italian media reported.

Amit Biran, 30 (left), his wife Tal, 26 (right), and their two-year-old son Tom (not pictured) were among those killed in the cable car crash in Italy. Their eldest son, five, is now fighting for life in hospital. Tal’s parents Itshak and Barbara were also killed

Alessandro Merlo and fiance Silvia Malnati

Alessandro Merlo and fiance Silvia Malnati

Alessandro Merlo and Silvia Malnati, 29 and 27, also died in the tragedy. Friends said the couple had been engaged for 10 years but were planning to marry – prompted by Silvia’s recent graduation from university

Silvia (left) had recently graduated from an economics course and got a job at a perfumery in Milan. Alessandro (right) worked as a designer at a company in Switzerland

Silvia (left) had recently graduated from an economics course and got a job at a perfumery in Milan. Alessandro (right) worked as a designer at a company in Switzerland 

Angelo Gasparro and Roberta Pistolato

Angelo Gasparro and Roberta Pistolato

Angelo Vito Gasparro, 45, wife Roberta Pistolato (together left and right), died when the cable car plunged 65ft during a trip to the mountains to celebrate Roberta’s 40th birthday

The 14 were killed when a cable supporting the car broke as it neared the top of Mottarone mountain, in northern Italy, on Sunday morning - sending it tumbling 500 yards down the slope

The 14 were killed when a cable supporting the car broke as it neared the top of Mottarone mountain, in northern Italy, on Sunday morning – sending it tumbling 500 yards down the slope

A photo taken and obtained on May 23, 2021 from Italian News agency Ansa shows a cable car that crashed to the ground in the resort town of Stresa on the shores of Lake Maggiore in the Piedmont region

A photo taken and obtained on May 23, 2021 from Italian News agency Ansa shows a cable car that crashed to the ground in the resort town of Stresa on the shores of Lake Maggiore in the Piedmont region

Rescuers work by the wreckage of a cable car after it collapsed near the summit of the Stresa-Mottarone line in the Piedmont region, northern Italy, May 23, 2021

Rescuers work by the wreckage of a cable car after it collapsed near the summit of the Stresa-Mottarone line in the Piedmont region, northern Italy, May 23, 2021

Italy's Alpine rescue service today said that, along with the 12 dead, three people have been airlifted to Turin hospital. It is believed of the three injured, two are children, according to local officials

Italy’s Alpine rescue service today said that, along with the 12 dead, three people have been airlifted to Turin hospital. It is believed of the three injured, two are children, according to local officials

The cable car is thought to have been carrying 15 people to the top of the Stresa-Mottarone line in the Piedmont region of the western Alps and dropped when it was just 1,000ft from the 4,900ft-high mountain station

The cable car is thought to have been carrying 15 people to the top of the Stresa-Mottarone line in the Piedmont region of the western Alps and dropped when it was just 1,000ft from the 4,900ft-high mountain station

The Mottarone cable car popular with tourists

Lake Maggiore cableway mountain cable car cabin stock

Lake Maggiore cableway mountain cable car cabin stock

The Mottarone cable car was opened in 1970. It reaches a height of 4,900 feet and takes tourists from the town of Stresa, to the top of the mountain, in 20 minutes.  

Mount Mottarone is considered a ‘natural balcony’ and boasts panoramic views across the Po Valley to the Alps. 

Seven lakes are visible from the summit, which is a 15 minute walk from the cable car station, they include Lake Maggiore, Italy’s second largest, Lake Orta and Lake Mergozzo.

The area became popular in the early 1900s when the area opened up for skiing and winter sports.   

Since it has seen many people go to enjoy scenic walks, including the Mottarone Alpino Stressa route, a four hour walk from the top of Mottarone which is reached by cable car.

Serena Cosentino, 27, described by friends as a talented student who had recently moved to Verbania on a research grant, and her Iranian boyfriend Mohammadreza Shahaisavandi, 23, also a student, were killed.

The pair were reportedly on a romantic weekend together after Ms Cosentino’s move, which had taken her away from Mr Shahaisavandi who still lived in Rome. 

Italian premier Mario Draghi voiced his condolences to the families of the victims, ‘with a special thought’ for the injured children, while transport minister Enrico Giovannini described the incident as a ‘terrible tragedy’. 

Walter Milan, spokesman for the Alpine rescue service, said the plunge happened about 330ft before the final pylon, in a spot where the cables were particularly high off the ground. 

The accident appears to be Italy’s worst cable car disaster since 1998, when a low-flying US military jet cut through the cable of a ski lift in Cavalese in the Dolomites, killing 20 people. 

The Italian government announced a commission to investigate the disaster, which is likely to renew questions about the quality and safety of Italy’s transport infrastructure. 

In 2018, 43 people died when the Morandi bridge in Genoa collapsed following years of neglect.  In 2009, a freight train carrying gas derailed at the Viareggio station near Lucca and exploded, killing 32 people. Poorly maintained axels of the train were blamed.

The accident may have been caused by a broken cable at the top of the system, according to ANSA news agency. 

‘It is a very serious accident,’ Walter Milan, a spokesman for the national alpine rescue service told RaiNews24 television.  

The rescue call arrived just after 12pm and the cable car had fallen from very high and was now sitting, ‘crumpled’ in the woods below, Milan added. 

He noted that the cable line had been renovated in 2016 and had only recently reopened after coronavirus lockdowns forced the closures of ski lifts across Italy.   

The cable car service first opened in August 1970 after almost three years of works to replace a cog railway, its website said.

The dual cable system is split into two sections, just over two kilometres between Stresa and Alpino and another three kilometres between Alpino and Mottarone. It consist of two cars – in alternate directions – with each one carrying up to 40 passengers, it added.

The mountain hosts a small amusement park, Alpyland, that has a children’s rollercoaster, and the area also has mountain bike paths and hiking trails. 

Severino said that important maintenance works, including changing the cables, had been carried out in recent years. ‘All of this is hard to believe,’ she said.

One person who saw the crash told MailOnline: ‘It was a very steep drop, so the cable car tumbled for a while before stopping against some trees. 

‘The police (and others) are at the scene of the incident and are trying to identify the people. It is a devastating morning for all of us.’ 

According to newspaper Corriere Della Serra, two children have been taken by air ambulance to hospital in Turin. 

The youngest child, a boy, suffered head trauma, thoracoabdominal trauma and lower limb fractures but is still conscious, according to Sky Italia.  

Corriere Della Serra said that rescue efforts have been made more difficult by the fact that the cabin fell into a wood in an inaccessible area. 

Rescuers work by the wreckage of a cable car after it collapsed near the summit of the Stresa-Mottarone line in the Piedmont region, northern Italy, May 23, 2021

Rescuers work by the wreckage of a cable car after it collapsed near the summit of the Stresa-Mottarone line in the Piedmont region, northern Italy, May 23, 2021

It is believed the cable car, which takes around 20 minutes to reach the 5,000ft high mountain station, was about 1,000ft from its destination when it plunged to the ground

It is believed the cable car, which takes around 20 minutes to reach the 5,000ft high mountain station, was about 1,000ft from its destination when it plunged to the ground

No details of ages of nationalities have yet been released by authorities in Italy, though both injured children are believed to be younger than 10. Pictured: Rescuers at the scene

No details of ages of nationalities have yet been released by authorities in Italy, though both injured children are believed to be younger than 10. Pictured: Rescuers at the scene

Today Italy's transport minister Enrico Giovannini described the incident as a 'terrible tragedy'. He said he was in touch with rescue teams at the scene (pictured)

Today Italy’s transport minister Enrico Giovannini described the incident as a ‘terrible tragedy’. He said he was in touch with rescue teams at the scene (pictured)

The rescue call arrived just after midday and the cable car had fallen from very high and was now sitting, 'crumpled' in the woods below, Milan added

The rescue call arrived just after midday and the cable car had fallen from very high and was now sitting, ‘crumpled’ in the woods below, Milan added

The cable car connects Stresa with Mottarone. Pictured: A general view of the Mottarone cable car station, in northern Italy

The cable car connects Stresa with Mottarone. Pictured: A general view of the Mottarone cable car station, in northern Italy

The Italian fire service, emergency crews are currently working at the area. 

They tweeted: ‘A cabin of the cable car connecting Stresa-Alpino-Mottarone fell. There are people dead, the toll is provisional.

‘Teams #vigilidelfuoco at work. On the spot the helicopter of the Varese flight department’. 

The national alpine rescue service said on Twitter: ‘Serious accident on the Stresa-Mottarone cable car. Alpine rescue, and other rescue teams on site. Two helicopter ambulances intervened.’ 

The incident comes 20 years after 40 tourists had to be rescued after a cable car got stuck on the line in 2001. The tourists had to be rescued after the cable car stopped shortly after leaving the terminal in Stresa. 

The Mottarone cable car was opened in 1970. It reaches a height of 4,900ft and takes tourists from the town of Stresa, to the top of the mountain, in 20 minutes.  

Police officers stand and salute as a hearse carrying one of the victims of a cable car crash drives past, in Stresa

Police officers stand and salute as a hearse carrying one of the victims of a cable car crash drives past, in Stresa

Police officers stand and salute as a hearse carrying one of the victims of a cable car crash drives past, in Stresa

Police officers stand and salute as a hearse carrying one of the victims of a cable car crash drives past, in Stresa

The cable car is thought to have been carrying 15 people to the top of the Stresa-Mottarone line in the Piedmont region of the western Alps and dropped when it was just 1,000ft from the 4,900ft-high mountain station

The cable car is thought to have been carrying 15 people to the top of the Stresa-Mottarone line in the Piedmont region of the western Alps and dropped when it was just 1,000ft from the 4,900ft-high mountain station

Alpine rescue service spokesman Walter Milan said that the car was 'very high off the ground' and another three people have been taken to hospital (stock image)

Alpine rescue service spokesman Walter Milan said that the car was ‘very high off the ground’ and another three people have been taken to hospital (stock image) 

Mount Mottarone is considered a ‘natural balcony’ and boasts panoramic views across the Po Valley to the Alps. 

Seven lakes are visible from the summit, which is a 15 minute walk from the cable car station, they include Lake Maggiore, Italy’s second largest, Lake Orta and Lake Mergozzo.

The area became popular in the early 1900s when the area opened up for skiing and winter sports.   

Since it has seen many people go to enjoy scenic walks, including the Mottarone Alpino Stressa route, a four hour walk from the top of Mottarone which is reached by cable car.

Under a traffic light system, British holidaymakers can travel to a small list of 12 green list countries – including Portugal – without having to quarantine on their return.  

Italy is currently on the Amber list which requires them to quarantine for 14 days at home upon return, but they avoid the expensive hotel quarantine required for people visiting red list states.  

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk