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1976: Scores die in cable car tragedy

Forty-two people, including 15 children, have been killed in northern Italy when the steel line supporting the cable car they were travelling in snapped.

The tragedy happened in the ski resort of Cavalese near Trento, in the Dolomite mountains.

It is the worst cable car accident in the world.

The cable car fell 700ft (213m) down a mountainside into a meadow on the banks of the Avisio stream.

A three-tonne (3,000 kg) overhead carriage assembly fell on top of the cabin which it held, crushing it.

According to the commander of the local fire brigade, Signor Selle, this is the reason why almost all of the cable car's passengers were killed.

Only known survivor

The children killed in the accident were aged between seven and 15, and include seven Austrian schoolboys.

The victims were also from Italy, West Germany and possibly the Netherlands.

The only known survivor, Alessandra Piovesan, 14, from Milan, is in hospital in a critical condition with internal injuries.

A man from Venice, Fabio Rustia, whose wife and two children were killed in the tragedy, is still missing.

The engineer in charge of the cableway, Signor Tanesini, said no safety system was in place when the suspension line gave way because the construction company had considered such an accident impossible.

The cableway, which was built 10 years ago, has two routes from Cavalese.

One ascends to a height of 4,000ft (1,219m) and the other reaches the 6,000ft (1,829m) summit of Mount Cermis.

In Context
The number of people who were killed later rose to 43 when the body of Signor Rustia was found.

Experts said the cable supporting the car had been tested the previous October with a weight many times that of a fully loaded cabin.

At the time, the company which built the cable, Falck-Acciaierie e Ferriere Lombarde, said there were grooves on the snapped line and signs of intense heat caused by friction.

For this reason entanglement was "the only possible and plausible hypothesis" to explain the accident.

An investigation concluded that faulty operation and maintenance were the cause of the tragedy.

The verdict led to the jailing of four lift officials.

In 1998, 20 people were killed in the same area when the line of the cable car they were travelling in was severed by a Nato aircraft.

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