Italy cable car survivor, 5, about to be told his entire family died in tragedy

A five-year-old boy who was the sole survivor of the cable car tragedy at Lake Maggiore in northern Italy is to be told today that his entire family died in the accident.

Eitan Biran's aunt Aya is waiting by the young boy’s bedside and is expected to reveal the truth to him as he wakes from his coma.

Giovanni La Valle, General director of the City of Health of Turin, said: "Eitan opened his eyes and found his aunt's familiar face. They are close to each other at the moment."

Aya, 41, is herself a doctor and is Eitan’s closest living relative after his parents Amit and Tal, two-year-old brother Tom and his great-grandparents all perished in the crash.

In a photo that was apparently taken moments before the crash, Eitan and his great-grandfather Yitzhak cab be seen looking out over the pine forests below.

According to local reports, Eitan survived because his father shielded him with his own body.

Three people have been arrested over the accident that left 14 dead on Sunday.

Investigators say the emergency brakes had been deliberately disabled in the rush to get the cable car operational again after the end of lockdown.

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The three people arrested are all members of staff from the company responsible for operating the cable car.

To prevent the cable car’s emergency brake from activating prematurely, causing disruption to the service, engineers had deliberately fitted a "fork" that kept its jaws open.

If that had not been done, the 14 who died on Sunday would almost certainly have survived the cable failure that caused the car to plunge down the mountain.

Local prosecutor Olimpia Bossi told journalists that the brake had been tampered with in a "conscious act" and which made the car unsafe.

According to the Italian newspaper Corriere Della Sera the fork had been left in place by mistake.

The Lake Maggiore cable car service originally opened in 1970. It was closed for maintenance between 2014 and 2016, and then again during the lockdown.

Passenger numbers had been reduced due to social distancing measures, if they had not been the death toll would have been likely to be considerably higher.

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