משפחת בירן
The damaged cable car and 5-year-old Eitan Biran
Photo: AFP
The remains of the cable car after the crash and 5-year-old Eitan Biran

Cable car crash survivor opens eyes; suspect confesses to tampering with brakes

Italian doctors say 5-year-old Eitan Biran has begun to emerge from coma, but rehabilitation process will be gradual and require great deal of work; police official says at least 1 of 3 detainees admits clamp placed on emergency brake

Ynet, News agencies |
Published: 05.26.21 , 14:37
Eitan Biran, the 5-year-old lone survivor of a cable car crash in Italy that killed his parents, little brother and great grandparents, has begun to wake up from his coma at a local hospital.
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  • Meanwhile, at least one of three people arrested over the crash that killed a total of 14 people on Sunday has admitted that the emergency brake on the funicular had been deactivated.
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    The remains of the cable car after the crash and 5-year-old Eitan Biran
    (Photo: AFP)
    Eitan "is beginning to regain consciousness," one of the doctors at Torino's Regina Margarita Hospital said.
    "This is a very delicate phase. This will be a gradual return to consciousness, it will require time and psychological aid. He already opened his eyes and it is important for him to see a familiar face beside him."
    Biran is currently being accompanied by his aunt Aya, his father's sister.
    Police arrested three people Wednesday in connection to the deadly crash, saying an investigation showed a clamp, intentionally placed on the brake as a patchwork repair, prevented the brake from engaging after the lead cable snapped.
    Carabinieri Lt. Col. Alberto Cicognani said at least one of the three people questioned overnight admitted to what happened.
    He said the fork-shaped clamp had been placed on the emergency brake to deactivate it because the brake was engaging spontaneously and preventing the funicular from working.
    The clamp was put on several weeks ago as a temporary fix to prevent further service interruptions in the cable car line bringing sightseers to the top of the Mottarone peak overlooking Lake Maggiore. It was still in place on Sunday morning, Cicognani told Sky TG24.
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    המזלג שמנע פעולת בלם חירום ברכבל שהתרסק באסון הרכבל באיטליה
    המזלג שמנע פעולת בלם חירום ברכבל שהתרסק באסון הרכבל באיטליה
    The fork-shaped clamp had been placed on the emergency brake
    (Photo: Corriere Della Sera)
    After the lead cable snapped Sunday, the cabin reeled back down the line until it pulled off entirely, crashed to the ground and rolled over down the mountainside until it came to rest against some trees. Fourteen people were killed, with Eitan Biran the only survivor.
    The bodies of the five members of the Biran family were to be flown to Israel on Wednesday after a memorial service organized by the local Jewish community in Stresa in northern Italy.
    “Because of a malfunction, the brake was continuing to engage even when it wasn’t supposed to,” Cicognani told Sky. “To prevent the cabin from halting during the transport of passengers, they chose to not remove the dispositive that blocked the emergency brake.”
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    Parents Amit and Tal Biran and son Tom were killed in the cable car crash in Italy; five-year-old Eitan survived the tragedy
    (Photo: Courtesy of the family)
    “In this way, the brake couldn’t function, and this brought about the fact that when the cable broke, the cabin fell backwards,” he said.
    Sky and the LaPresse news agency identified the three people arrested as the owner of the cable car service, the company's director and the service chief.
    Verbania Prosecutor Olimpia Bossi said the deactivation of the brake was clearly designed as a stop-gap measure to allow the funicular to continue operating. The more extensive, “radical" repair operation that was needed would have likely taken it out of service, she said.
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    זירת התרסקות הרכבל באיטליה
    זירת התרסקות הרכבל באיטליה
    The site of the cable car crash in northern Italy
    (Photo: gettyimages)
    Bossi told reporters that investigators believed the stop-gap measure was used with “the full knowledge" of the cable car company owners.
    As a result, the arrests turned the horror of Sunday's disaster into outrage, given it appeared to have been an entirely preventable tragedy.
    Already, the mayor of the hometown of one of the victims, Serena Cosentino, announced that the city would pursue legal action against those responsible, saying it would present itself as an injured party in the civil portion of any possible prosecution.
    “The news unfortunately is showing a broad plane of responsibility and omissive guilt," Diamonte Mayor Ernesto Magorno said in a statement.
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