Front Page







World Summary

On Air


Talking Point


Low Graphics


Site Map

Wednesday, February 4, 1998 Published at 21:06 GMT


Italian outrage over cable car tragedy
image: [ Rescuers inspect the smashed cable car ]
Rescuers inspect the smashed cable car

The Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi has strongly criticised the low-level flight of an American military plane which cut the wires of a cable car at an Italian ski resort, plunging 20 people to their death.

Mr Prodi, who was visiting the scene of the accident in Cavalese in the Dolomite mountains, called it an act of tragic recklessness and a clear violation of the rules governing such flights.

He said the plane was flying virtually at ground level. He promised that a joint US-Italian inquiry would establish who was responsible and that justice would be done.

VIDEO: Jonathan Charles reports from Cavalese (2'02'')
As police in Cavalese finished identifying the bodies of the victims, politicians and commentators lashed out at what they called "stupid" military exercises and joined in calls for an urgent and thorough inquiry into the accident.

The Italian President, Oscar Luigi Scalfaro, also demanded a re-examination of the rules governing low-flying. But others are going further.

Some national politicians are calling for a complete ban on such military exercises and the Communist Refoundation Party is demanding that the Americans are evicted from all military bases in Italy.

In an editorial in Turin's La Stamps newspaper, one journalist asked: "What are they trying to prove with their stupid low-level flying?"

[ image: The red arrow shows the site where the cable car plunged into the valley]
The red arrow shows the site where the cable car plunged into the valley
The Italian Foreign Minister, Lamberto Dini, has said a full inquiry into the incident must now be launched. "This is a very serious accident which should not have happened. A detailed and thorough investigation must take place," he said.

The Italian authorities say they have finished identifying the bodies of the victims, who were mostly foreign holidaymakers making their way back from the Cermis ski resort to Cavalese, 30 km (50 km) north of Trento.

The cable car, descending from Cermis to Cavalese, plunged on to a part of the mountain not used for skiing.

The head of Italy's Green Party, Mauro Paissan, said: "We certainly can't say this was an accident. The Cermis tragedy has to be attributed to the planes which irresponsibly fly at a low level."

The tragedy was the second worst cable car accident on record. The worst occurred at almost the same spot in March 1976 when cables snapped, killing 42 people.

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage


  Relevant Stories

04 Feb 98 | World
Italian tragedy raises low-flying concerns

04 Feb 98 | World
US promises cable car deaths inquiry

  Internet Links

La Stampa

US Marine Corps

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.
In this section

From Business
Microsoft trial mediator appointed

Violence greets Clinton visit

From Entertainment
Taxman scoops a million

Safety chief deplores crash speculation

Bush calls for 'American internationalism'

Hurricane Lenny abates

EU fraud: a billion dollar bill

Russian forces pound Grozny

Senate passes US budget

Boy held after US school shooting

Cardinal may face loan-shark charges

Sudan power struggle denied

Sharif: I'm innocent

From Business
Vodafone takeover battle heats up

India's malnutrition 'crisis'

Next steps for peace

Homeless suffer as quake toll rises

Dam builders charged in bribery scandal

Burundi camps 'too dire' to help

DiCaprio film trial begins

Memorial for bonfire dead

Spy allegations bug South Africa

Senate leader's dismissal 'a good omen'

Tamil rebels consolidate gains

New constitution for Venezuela

Hurricane pounds Caribbean

Millennium sect heads for the hills

South African gays take centre stage

Lockerbie trial judges named

World Contents

Middle East
South Asia
From Our Own Correspondent
Letter From America