At least 14 people, including a child, were killed when a cable car fell in northern Italy on Sunday, officials said.
The Stresa-Mottarone cable car fell 20 meters, Marcella Severino, mayor of the city of Stresa, told Reuters, adding that the cabin had rolled down steep slopes several times before being stopped by trees.
He descended as he made the 20-minute drive from town on Lake Maggiore to the top of Mottarone Mountain in the Alps, nearly 4,500 feet above sea level.
A photo of the wreckage taken by Italian firefighters showed the crushed and crumpled remains of the cable car in a clearing of a thick patch of pine trees near the top of the mountain.
Hikers heard a loud whistling sound just before the crash, Severino said.
Two children were in serious condition when they arrived at Regina Margherita Hospital in nearby Turin, spokesman Pier Paolo Berra told NBC News by phone.
A little boy, around 5 years old, arrived conscious but broke his legs and suffered trauma to his chest and abdomen, he said.
A second boy, whose age was unknown, was in critical condition, Berra said, adding that he was unaware when he arrived. He had suffered a severe head trauma and had also fractured his legs, he added.
A child subsequently died of the injuries, but the hospital did not say which of the two children died.
Walter Milan, spokesperson for the Italian Alpine Rescue Service, said the identity of the remaining victims was unknown.
In a separate interview with the Associated Press, Milan said the cable line was renovated in 2016 and only recently reopened after coronavirus lockdowns forced the closure of ski lifts across Italy.
At the point where the cable car fell, about 300 feet before the last pestle, the elevator cables were particularly high off the ground, he added.
Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi sent his condolences to the families of the victims in what he called a “tragic accident” on Twitter.
“A special thought goes to the seriously injured children and their families,” he added.
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Mottarone Peak is popular with tourists due to its panoramic views of Lake Maggiore and its picturesque islands as well as the view 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 split into two sections, just over a mile between Stresa and Alpino and a further three kilometers between Alpino and Mottarone, he added.
It consists of two cars, in alternating directions, each capable of carrying up to 40 passengers, he said.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed.