An orphaned five year old boy shouted “Where’s my mom?” After his parents, younger brother and great grandparents were killed in a horror cable car fall in Italy.
The traumatized student Eitan Biran was the only survivor of the tragedy on Sunday afternoon in which 14 people died on a mountain slope in the western Alps.
Eitan’s father, Amit Biran, 30, is believed to be wrapping his son in his arms to protect him – and save his life in the process – when the car fell 65 feet, rolled down the steep slope, and slammed into trees.
Eitan’s father, mother Tal Peleg-Biran, 26, brother Tom, two, and maternal great-grandparents – Barbara Cohen Konisky, 71 and Yitzhak Cohen, 81, who were visiting from Tel Aviv – were all killed.
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The family was from Israel but lived in northern Italy, where Mr Biran worked in a clinic in Pavia and Ms. Peleg-Biran, a psychologist, looked after their sons.
Eitan was flown to a children’s hospital in Turin where he underwent surgery and continued treatment for severe head and leg injuries on Monday while the investigation into the crash continued.
His aunt Aya Biran, a doctor who also lives in Italy, told the story La Stampa that her nephew said “I’m afraid don’t touch me” and “Where is my mother” to medical professionals before he was sedated.
It was unclear how much Eitan knew about the crash and the fate of his parents, brother, and great-grandparents.
It is said that the great-grandparents decided to visit a family in Italy when the conflict between Israel and Hamas broke out in Gaza earlier this month.
Eitan’s condition was critical but stable, and he was intubated in an intensive care unit after surgery, a hospital official told La Stampa.
Eitan is believed to have been saved by his father, who wrapped his arms around him to protect him when the cable car crashed to the ground, the report added.
A nine-year-old child who was flown to the same hospital died despite efforts to rescue her.
The cable car fell as it approached a station on Mount Mottarone after a 20-minute drive from the town of Stresa on Lake Maggiore.
Matteo Gasparini from the Italian Alpine Rescue Service said a cable broke and the emergency brake failed.
Stresa Mayor Marcella Severino said people hiking nearby heard a loud hissing sound just before the crash.
It was believed that the accident was caused by a broken cable, she added.
Ms. Severino said some of the victims were found trapped in the crumpled car and others were thrown into the woods.
The public prosecutor in Milan has opened an investigation into involuntary murder and negligence.
The cable car service opened in 1970 and, according to local media, closed between 2014 and 2016 for maintenance work.
It reopened a month before the crash after lockdown measures were eased in Italy.
A lawyer for the operator, Ferrovie del Mottarone, told reporters that the cable car system had been regularly serviced and checked.
The cables shouldn’t be replaced until 2029, the lawyer added.