Italian prosecutors suspect numerous workers at a site in northern Italy where a cable car crashed Sunday, killing all but one of the 15 people aboard, were aware that the emergency brake had been disabled but did not work to address the matter or speak out, local reports said Friday.
Authorities believe the brake may have been deactivated numerous times over the years to avoid halting operations, according to reports in Italy’s La Stampa and Today newspapers.
Further arrests could reportedly be made soon. Three men have so far been arrested over the incident and have admitted to disabling the cable car’s emergency braking system after repeated problems with the braking device, instead of fixing it, out of an apparent desire to avoid the economic consequences of a lengthy shutdown for repairs.
Italian investigators were also expected to inspect the cable that was attached to the cabin. The reports said a theory under examination is that the cable snapped due to the disabling of the brake system.
The reports came a day after the parents of five-year-old Israeli Eitan Biran, the sole survivor of the disaster, were buried in Israel along with his two-year-old brother in a private ceremony. His great-grandparents, also killed in the crash, were due to be buried Friday.
According to Italian media, one of the three men under arrest, service manager Gabriele Tadini, has told investigators: “It’s my fault… I feel a huge burden on my conscience. I pray and deal with myself. I will reckon with God.”
Though repentant, Tadini was said to insist the cable car’s operators did not think an accident was possible.
The cable “was in good condition, it showed no signs of wear. What happened is an accident that doesn’t happen even once in a million,” he was quoted as saying.
Eitan was seriously injured in the crash on Mount Mottarone, in which 14 people were killed. Eitan, who resided in Italy with his family, was apparently saved by the embrace of his father, who died when the cabin crashed to the ground, a hospital spokesperson said Monday.
The Regina Margherita hospital in Turin, where he is being treated, said Thursday that he was awake, communicating and would soon be moved out of intensive care.
His aunt, a doctor living in Italy, was said to have been at his bedside when he came round. Biran suffered multiple broken bones in the crash, though doctors determined there was no neurological damage. He has been gradually taken off sedation as his condition improved.
Hebrew media reported that a local psychiatrist had been appointed to help break the news to the child of the loss of his family.
Agencies contributed to this report.