Italy cable car crash: five-year-old survivor to be moved out of intensive care

The five-year-old boy who survived last weekend’s deadly cable car crash in the Italian mountains that killed his parents and sibling is awake and will soon be moved out of intensive care, hospital officials said on Thursday.

Eitan Biran has been in critical condition since the cabin plunged to the ground on the Mottarone mountain, killing the other 14 people inside, including his parents, younger brother and great-grandparents. Thirteen of the passengers died at the scene, while Eitan and another child were taken to hospital. The other child later died.

“Eitan is now awake and conscious in the intensive care unit, speaking with his aunt and looking around,” said a spokesman for Turin’s Regina Margherita hospital. “From a clinical point of view, he is still in a critical condition due to his thoracic and abdominal trauma and the fractures to his limbs.

“In the next few days he will be taken out of intensive care and transferred to a hospital ward.”

Doctors believe Eitan, whose family is Israeli, was likely saved by his father shielding him with his embrace, the Jerusalem Post reported.

Italian police on Wednesday arrested three senior managers from the cable car operating company over Sunday’s tragedy. They are accused of deliberately deactivating the emergency brake that should have prevented the cable car from falling backwards when the cable snapped.

The cable car system had “anomalies” since resuming service in late April, Ansa reported, citing the chief public prosecutor, Olimpia Bossi. “The [cable car] had been travelling in that way for several days and had made several trips,” Bossi alleged.

Eitan’s plight has united Italy. His school friends sent him an art project covered with colourful handprints and designs, to help cheer him up. “It’s an enormous tragedy,” artist Stefano Bressani, father of one of his schoolmates, told Il Messaggero newspaper.

A message pinned to a teddy bear left at the hospital read, “Hi Eitan, you must make it. I’m leaving you my son’s stuffed animal to play and sleep with. I love you. A mom,” the Jerusalem Post reported.

Marcella Severino, the mayor of the town of Stresa where the cable car started out, told the paper the boy’s aunt – his father’s sister – was looking after him. “She has great strength, which will serve her well by her nephew’s side. She’s a constant presence in the life of the child, he’s in good hands,” she said.

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