Israeli boy orphaned in Italy cable car crash out of intensive care

Doctors transfer Eitan Biran, 5, to regular ward a day after hospital announced he’s ‘constantly improving’ and recovering from chest and abdomen injuries

The Biran family, with Eitan on the right. (Courtesy)
The Biran family, with Eitan on the right. (Courtesy)

The five-year-old boy who was the sole survivor of an Italian cable car crash that killed 14 people was moved out of intensive care on Tuesday, a medical source said.

The boy, named Eitan Biran, lost his parents, younger brother and great-grandparents in the May 24 accident near the top of the Mottarone mountain, in the northwestern Piedmont region.

Eitan was transferred to a regular ward after lunch, a spokesman for the Citta della Salute hospital in Turin told AFP.

The move had been announced a day earlier, when the hospital said the boy was “constantly improving” and recovering from his chest and abdomen injuries.

Rescuers work by the wreckage of a cable car after it collapsed near the summit of the Stresa-Mottarone line in the Piedmont region, northern Italy, as seen from the aerial photograph, May 23, 2021. (Vigili del Fuoco Firefighters via AP)

It added that his aunt was by his bedside. Eitan’s family, originally from Israel, had moved to northern Italy in 2018, according to Italian media.

After the crash, the boy was airlifted to hospital in critical condition. He spent several days intubated and sedated, and woke up on Thursday.

The accident has shocked Italy.

It killed Eitan’s family and others out on a Sunday excursion to the scenic spot served by the cable car.

The cable car’s pull cable snapped just before it reached destination. It then flew backwards, dislodging itself from a second, supporting cable, and crashed to the ground.

Amit Biran (R), his wife Tal Peleg-Biran and their son Tom Biran, who were killed on May 23, 2021, when a cable car collapsed near the summit of the Stresa-Mottarone line in the Piedmont region, northern Italy. (Facebook)

Investigations have revealed that emergency brakes that could have stopped the car on its supporting cable, avoiding the tragedy, had been deactivated.

Three men — the cable car’s chief technician, a technical director and the owner of the cable car operating company — have been arrested but released over the weekend.

The technician, Gabriele Tadini, was put under house arrest after admitting to disabling the brake system because it was malfunctioning, but said his two superiors knew about this.

They have denied this, and were released after a judge found a “total lack of evidence” against them. All three men remain under criminal investigation and face multiple charges of manslaughter and negligent disaster.

Israeli victims Amit Biran, 30, his wife Tal Peleg-Biran, 26, and their 2-year-old son Tom Biran, who lived in northern Italy, and Peleg-Biran’s grandparents Barbara and Yitzhak Cohen of Tel Aviv, 71 and 81, have all now been buried in Israel.

Eitan Biran suffered multiple broken bones in the disaster, though doctors determined there was no neurological damage. He has been gradually taken off sedation as his condition improved. A hospital spokesperson said earlier this week that the child was apparently saved by the embrace of his father, who died when the cabin crashed to the ground.

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