Boy's grandmother now also by his side in hospital

Israeli boy orphaned in Italy cable car crash starts to ask about his parents

Report says Eitan Biran has so far only been told that he’s been asleep for a few days; mayor says Italian families offer to adopt child; Jewish community raises money for him

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

The orphaned 5-year-old Israeli boy who was the sole survivor of a cable car crash in northern Italy has started to ask about his parents, Hebrew media reported Friday.

The Ynet news site, citing Italy’s La Stampa newspaper, said Eitan Biran has so far only been told that he has been asleep for a number of days.

Biran’s aunt, a doctor living in Italy, was said to have been at his bedside when he came round after he was seriously injured in the crash. His grandmother is now also with him in the hospital, Channel 12 news reported.

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.

A view shows a journalist working by a cable car’s wreckage covered with a tarpaulin on May 26, 2021 on the slopes of the Mottarone peak above Stresa, Piedmont, three days after a crash that killed 14 (MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP)

Hebrew media reported that a local psychiatrist had been appointed to help break the news to the child of the loss of his parents, younger brother and great-grandparents.

The boy’s parents 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.

A rescuer takes a picture of a clamp that was placed on an emergency brake, as search for evidence continues in the wreckage of a cable car after it collapsed near the summit of the Stresa-Mottarone line in the Piedmont region, northern Italy, May 26, 2021 (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

The mayor of the town where the cable car started out told the London Times newspaper Saturday that three Italian families have offered to adopt Eitan, who was raised in Italy by his Israeli parents.

“I was called by three families ready to adopt him, including one from Sicily,” said Marcella Severino, the mayor of the town of Stresa. “Luckily Eitan has aunts, uncles and a family that will support him and help him overcome this pain, but these offers make us understand there is still a lot of humanity in this world.”

The newspaper also said that Italian Jewish organizations have raised approximately $50,000 for the boy. Additionally, the prize money from Friday’s 19th stage of the Giro d’Italia bike race will be donated to the victims of the cable car accident on Mount Mottarone that cost 14 lives, the professional cyclists’ association (CPA) announced.

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)

Italian prosecutors suspect numerous workers at a site in northern Italy where a cable car crashed Sunday, killing all but one of the 15 people aboard, were aware that the emergency brake had been disabled but did not work to address the matter or speak out, local reports said Friday.

Authorities believe the brake may have been deactivated numerous times over the years to avoid halting operations, according to reports in Italy’s La Stampa and Today newspapers.

Further arrests could reportedly be made soon. Three men have so far been arrested over the incident and have admitted to disabling the cable car’s emergency braking system after repeated problems with the braking device, instead of fixing it, out of an apparent desire to avoid the economic consequences of a lengthy shutdown for repairs.

A police officer salutes as a hearse passes by, on the road leading to the Stresa-Mottarone after a cable car of the line collapsed, near Stresa, Italy, May 23, 2021 (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)

Italian investigators were also expected to inspect the cable that was attached to the cabin. The reports said a theory under examination is that the cable snapped due to the disabling of the brake system.

According to Italian media, one of the three men under arrest, service manager Gabriele Tadini, has told investigators: “It’s my fault… I feel a huge burden on my conscience. I pray and deal with myself. I will reckon with God.”

Though repentant, Tadini was said to insist the cable car’s operators did not think an accident was possible.

The cable “was in good condition, it showed no signs of wear. What happened is an accident that doesn’t happen even once in a million,” he was quoted as saying.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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