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



World

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.
 





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04 Feb 98 | World
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