At least 13 people have died in a cable car accident in northern Italy on Sunday, officials said.
A group was riding in a Stresa-Mottarone cable car — which connects the town of Stresa on Lake Maggiore with the nearby Mottarone mountain in the Piedmont region — when it plunged into a wooded area Sunday morning, according to a spokesperson for the National Alpine Speleological Rescue Corps, which is leading the rescue operation.
There were 15 passengers on the cable car at the time of the crash, the rescue group told CNN. Officials had earlier put the death toll at 12, with three injured — including two children.
Italy’s national fire brigade posted a photograph of the crash site on social media, which shows first responders surrounding the mangled cable car near broken trees and severed cables. A spokesperson for the fire brigade said the number of dead could rise.
The accident happened when a cable snapped just as the car was completing the 20-minute voyage from the Lido di Stresa piazza on Lake Maggiore to the Mottarone station some 1,491 meters above sea level at the top of the mountain. The cable broke 300 meters from the top of the mountain, according to local media ANSA. The car then crashed into a wooded area with no direct road access.
Helicopters lowered alpine rescuers to the crash site and lifted out the victims.
Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi expressed his sympathy to loved ones of the deceased in statement Sunday.
“I learned with deep sorrow the news of the tragic accident of the Stresa-Mottarone cable car. I express the condolences on behalf of the whole government to the families of the victims, with a special thought for the children who were seriously injured and their families,” the statement read.
The Prime Minister is receiving constant updates on the situation from Minister of Sustainable Infrastructure and Mobility Enrico Giovannini and local authorities, it added.
European Council President Charles Michel offered his condolences in a post on Twitter, saying “Europe is mourning with you” while European Parliament President David Sassoli said in his own post that “we must get clarity immediately on the cause of this absurd tragedy.”