Rome, May 26 (EFE).- Three people have been arrested on suspicion of tampering with the emergency brakes of a cable car that plummeted to the ground in northern Italy on the weekend, killing 14 people.
Local chief prosecutor Olimpia Bossi said Wednesday that the suspects, who include the owner of the company that manages the funicular ride between the lakeside town of Stresa and Mt. Mottarone, had been “aware of the failure in the brake system for weeks.”
She added the brake system appeared to have been altered to avoid disruptions to the service following technical “anomalies” that emerged when the cable car returned to business in April.
Specifically, investigators suspect that the emergency brake clamp on the carrying cable, which activates in the event that the towing cable fails or snaps, had been deactivated.
Piedmont’s regional transport councillor Marco Gabusi reconstructed Sunday’s accident and explained that there should have been two separate emergency brakes systems but neither had worked.
The cable car was just five meters from the mountain-top station when the accident occured. Without the brakes, it slid backwards down the line at a speed of 100km/h. It then plummeted to the slopes of the mountain and tumbled before the wreckage came to rest against some trees.
The cable car had been transporting 15 people from Stresa, on the banks of Lake Maggiore, to the popular viewpoint on Mottarone at the time of the accident.
The sole survivor of the tragedy, five-year-old Eitan Biran, remains in a critical but stable condition. His parents, brother and two great-grandparents were killed in the accident.