Cavalese cable car disaster (1976)
The Cavalese cable car disaster of 1976 is the deadliest aerial lift crash in history. On 9 March 1976, the steel supporting cable of an aerial tramway broke as a fully loaded cable car was descending from Mt. Cermis near the Italian ski resort of Cavalese in the Dolomites, 40 km (25 mi) north-east of Trento.
The cabin fell some 200 metres (660 ft) down a mountainside, then skidded 100 metres (330 ft) before coming to a halt in a grassy meadow. In the fall, the three-ton overhead carriage assembly fell on top of the car, crushing it. Forty-three people died, including 15 children between the ages of 7 and 15 and the 18-year-old cable car attendant. Initial reports stated 42 dead with one missing; however, the last body, that of Fabio Rustia, was found later. The only survivor was a 14-year-old Milanese girl, Alessandra Piovesana, who was on a school trip and was with two friends when the crash happened. She testified in the succeeding trials and later worked as a journalist for the science magazine Airone, before her death from illness in 2009.
The cable car had a capacity of 40 people or 7,000 pounds (3,200 kg). At the time of the crash in the late afternoon it had 44 occupants – justified by the operator, as many of them were children. Most of the victims were West Germans from Hamburg. Among those aboard were 21 Germans, 11 Italians, 7 Austrians and one French woman.
The inquest found that during high winds the stationary and the moving steel cables crossed and one severed the other. The automatic train stop safety system, which could have prevented the disaster, was switched off. Four lift officials were jailed for their part in the disaster.
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- http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-20919458 Bbc.co.uk
- "BBC ON THIS DAY | 9 | 1976: Scores die in cable car tragedy"
- Postiglione, Venanzio (4 February 1998). "La maledizione del Cermis comincio' 22 anni fa". Corriere della Sera (in Italian). Retrieved 30 July 2012.
- Santucci, Gianni (11 April 2009). "Morta l' unica sopravvissuta del Cermis". Corriere della Sera (in Italian). Retrieved 30 July 2012.
- Manuela, Stefani (30 April 2009). "Ciao Alessandra". CDR Cairo Blog (in Italian). Retrieved 30 July 2012.
- "42 Skiers Are Killed in Italy When Cable Car Falls 200 Feet", The New York Times, March 10, 1976
- "42 plunge to death in cable car crash", The Daily Collegian, March 11, 1976, page 6.
- Henley, Jon (2 July 1999). "20 killed in cable car disaster". guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 2 March 2010.