A CABLE car was thrown 500m down an Italian mountain killing 14 people when a cable snapped and brakes failed.
The catastrophic sequence events lasted around 30 seconds and began as the car neared the summit and resulted in it plummeting towards a pylon, then flying into the air before it smashed into the ground.
Among the dead are a family of five and several couples who had come to enjoy the spectacular views by the beautiful Lake Maggiore.
The Italian authorities have now begun an investigation as more details emerge about what might have happened.
The cars carrying tourists are hauled by a cable up to the top of the mountain from the town of Stresa and rest on another cable for support.
The car was near the final station, where visitors are able to get a panoramic view of the surrounding mountains.
Each gondola has a capacity of 40 people but due to Covid restrictions there were less than half that on board.
Around noon, the cable pull the doomed car snapped, according to a reconstruction of events by Corriere Della Serra.
At that point, the cabin moved back quickly along the other cable but critically the braking system appears to have failed.
The cabin then hurtled up to 500 metres down the supporting cable until it hit one of the masts that supports the lines, at which point it was thrown into the air.
The cabin plummeted 20 metres and when it hit the ground, rolled over for for several dozen metres before it stops in front of two tree trunks.
In the crash, some bodies were thrown out and were found a few metres away from the cabin.
The Verbania prosecutor’s office opened an investigation into the incident and the Ministry of Infrastructure set up an inquiry commission.
A huge rescue mission was launched following the horror accident.
Local mayor Marcella Severino recalled witnesses describing what they saw unfold.
“They heard a loud bang and saw the cable car just before the summit and then it accelerated backwards, struck a support pillar and fell,” she said.
“Some were killed inside, while others were thrown from the car. It appears the cable gave way, and walkers saw it happen.
“Where it hit the ground is a remote spot, it’s on the edge of some woods, and the witnesses said it rolled three times before stopping against some trees.
She later told La Repubblica that witnesses also told her they heard “two crazy bangs” as the car crashed into trees.
The paper also reports that rescuers said the car rolled 500 metres down the mountain.
Heartbreaking details about those who died are now beginning to emerge.
A five-year-old boy from Israel is the only member of his family to survive.
Eitan Biran’s father Amit Biran, 30, and his 26-year-old wife Tal Peleg-Biran died along with their other son Tom Biran, aged two, and her grandparents in the tragedy.
The family lived in northern Italy, and her grandparents Barbara and Yitzhak Cohen, who were aged 71 and 81, were visiting from Tel Aviv.
A doctor sent a last message to her sister to say she was boarding a cable car in northern Italy – an hour before it plunged 20 metres to the ground, killing 14.
Roberta Pistolato, who has been working on the frontline of Italy’s battle against Covid, died in the tragedy as she celebrated her 40th birthday with her boyfriend Angelo Gasparro, 45.
Shortly before the horror, believed to have happened when a cable snapped near the summit of the 4,900ft mountain, Ms Pistolato texted her sister: “We’re getting on the cable car.”
Vittorio Zorloni, 55, and his 37-year-old partner Elisabetta Personini were killed along with and their five-year-old son Mattia.
The couple, who were due to get married next month, were killed instantly when the car hit the ground and their son died in hospital in Turin.
The accident also claimed the lives of Serena Cosetino, 27, a scientific researcher, and her 30-year-old boyfriend Mohammed Reza Shahisavandi, an Iranian student, who also worked in a bar in Rome.
Engaged couple Silvia Malnati 27, and Alessandro Merlo, 29, were also among those who died.
Images of the tragedy show the crushed and crumpled remains of the cable car in a clearing of a thick patch of pine trees.
Rescue efforts were hampered by the woodland, as well as the steep slope.
Rescuer Walter Milan told Italy’s SkyTG24 said the cable car collapsed near the summit of the Stresa-Mottarone line in the Piedmont region.
“The cable car fell from a relatively high point and it fell into wooded terrain,” he said.
A witness told MailOnline: “It was a very steep drop, so the cable car tumbled for a while before stopping against some trees.
“The police are at the scene of the incident and are trying to identify the people. It is a devastating morning for all of us.”
The cable line closed in 2014 for a €4.4 million renovation, opening against in 2016.
However, it then shut as a result of the coronavirus lockdown, which forced the closures of ski lifts across Italy. It reopened again less than a month ago, on April 24.
The service first began running in August 1970 and the journey takes 20 minutes.
Italian minister Enrico Giovannini said: “A terrible tragedy.
“We are trying to understand what has happened, but it is a truly terrible tragedy.”
Cops make arrest after 4-year-old boy ‘kidnapped and brutally murdered
SPEAKER IN PERIL
Pelosi under pressure as she has slimmest Dem majority since WWII
THERE THEY GLOW
Triangle UFO spotted flying past ISS as viewers say it is ‘100% an alien’
NO FLY ZONE
Airlines told to avoid Belarus airspace after plot to ‘shoot down plane’
China ‘will spark ANOTHER pandemic even worse than Covid as it refuses to learn’
China warns Australia will be ‘first missile target’ if it meddles in Taiwan
Mottarone reaches a height of 4,900 feet and overlooks a picturesque lake.
The mountain features a small amusement park, Alpyland, that has a children’s rollercoaster offering 360-degree views of the scenery.
Many Italian ski areas feature mountain bike paths and hiking trails that are popular in spring and summer.