Italian investigators have released two of the three men who were detained following a deadly cable car accident last week, with the third under house arrest, as officials continue their investigation.
The accident occurred on May 23 in Piedmont region, west of Lake Maggiore, on a line that links the resort town of Stresa with the 1,500-metre-high Mount Mottarone, dpa news agency reported.
Fourteen people were killed and a five-year-old boy, who lost several members of his family, was seriously injured.
The magistrate in Verbania on Saturday ordered that the director of the cable car service and the operative head of the service to be released, Italian ANSA news agency reported, citing judicial sources, as there was not enough evidence against them.
Only the cable car’s service chief remains under house arrest, as the judge doubted some of his statements, ANSA quoted investigating prosecutor Olimpia Bossi as saying.
The evidence so far indicates that a cable broke shortly before the gondola arrived at the mountain station about 1,300 metres above sea level.
It is not known what caused the cable to snap.
An emergency brake should have been activated, but this did not happen.
The gondola raced back towards the valley at high speed on the support cables, slammed into a cable car pillar and overturned several times.
Investigators suspect the safety braking system had been deactivated because there had previously been irregularities in the running of the cable car.
According to media reports, the operators might have tampered with the device to avoid a stoppage of the service, after it had been suspended for a long time due to the coronavirus.
The region of Piedmont has declared a day of mourning for the victims and people are due to observe a minute’s silence on Sunday.