Cable car tragedy: Young Israeli couple, child identified

An Israeli couple and their two-year-old son died along with their grandparents when a cable car in northern Italy collapsed. Their six-year-old son is the only survivor.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

The five Israelis killed in a cable car accident in northern Italy were identified Monday by the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem as a young couple, their toddler son and two grandparents.

Amit Biran, 30, who was a medical student at the university in Fabia and worked as a security guard in the Jewish community in Milan, his wife Tal Peleg-Biran, 27, and their two-year-old son Tom were killed, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. Tal’s grandparents Barbara Cohen, 71, and Yitzhak Cohen, 72, who had come to Italy to visit the family, also died in the accident.

They were among at least 14 people killed when a mountain cable car fell from its track Sunday and crashed down the mountainside.

The Birans’ eldest son, 6-year-old Eitan, was apparently the only survivor of the disaster and was evacuated to a hospital in Turin in critical condition.

A ministry spokesman said Amit’s sister, Aya, is in the hospital next to Eitan’s bed. Family members will fly to Italy later Sunday, where the Israeli embassy in Rome is helping to arrange to transport the bodies to back Israel.

“They thought of traveling yesterday and that’s how it ended. A great disaster for our community,” Milo Hasbani, president of the Jewish community in Milan, told Channel 12 News.

Hasbani said he himself had traveled to the same popular mountain area several times.

“We still do not know exactly what happened, but what we do know is that 2016 was the last repair they made and everything was fine. Now they are trying to discover exactly what happened,” Hasbani said, adding that members of the Milan Jewish community were helping the family and he himself would go to the hospital where Eitan is being treated.

The accident occurred on the Stresa-Mottarone cable car in northern Italy that connects the Lido di Stresa piazza on Lake Maggiore to Mottarone mountain in the Piedmont region of the Italian Alps. The cable car carries tourists and locals from the town of Stresa and rises to a height of more than 1,590 meters above sea level.

Reports indicate that the cable car fell from a height of about 20 meters before it reached the top of the mountain and rolled several times, throwing several bodies out of the cabin.

The accident took place in a secluded area where rescue forces had to be lowered in by helicopter. There were no initial causes found for the car to fall, and investigators said they would be checking why the security system had failed.

The manufacturer inspected the cable car last November, but the system had only recently resumed service after not being actively used during the coronavirus pandemic.