A five-year-old survivor of a cable car crash that killed his family said “where are mum and dad?” when he woke up in hospital after the horrific accident.
Eitan Biran, from Israel, was the only survivor of the tragedy in the Alps which killed 14 people.
Among the 14 who were killed were his mother Tal, 26, father Amit, 30, little brother Tom, two, and great grandparents Yitzhak Cohen, 81, and Barbara Koninsky, 71, reports the Mirror.
Following the accident Eitan has been in intensive care in hospital in Turin for most of the week.
He has mades some progress and is now able to breathe by himself, though he still finds it difficult to speak and is in a critical condition.
At present it is not clear if he has been told the news that his parents, brother and great grandparents are dead.
Eitan’s auntie Aya, 41, has been to visit him in hospital, he told her he had a sore throat when he first woke up, and then asked where he was and why she was there.
Giovanni La Valle, the hospital's general manager, told German newspaper BILD:
“Sometimes Eitan asks about his parents, but whatever: his aunt is always with him.”
Eitan suffered abdominal and thoracic trauma, along with fractures to his limbs, when the cable crash happened last week, and is still in a critical condition.
His psychologist, Marina Bertolotti, said that at this early stage it was important to tread carefully.
“We don't ask, but we have to be able to respond to his questions,” she explained. “To find the right answers, we need to work with his family. If he screams, you have to intervene. But otherwise, we have to first see what his psychological trauma is.’
The bodies of his mother, father, younger brother, and his great-grandparents were lined up at the Milan Malpensa airport on Wednesday ahead of their repatriation to Israel.
They were buried the next day in Aviel, while Eitan’s aunt and grandparents stayed with him in the hospital.
Three families have also offered to adopt him, having contacted the Mayor of Stresa Marcella Severino, who visited him earlier in the week and labelled the crash her town's 9/11.
“This is September 11 for Stresa,” the mayor said on Wednesday evening as a message from the Pope was relayed by the local priest during a service for the victims.
“The Holy Father thinks with emotion of so many lives tragically broken … and sends his prayers to the victims and for little Eitan,” Father Gianluca Villa told the congregation, which included firefighters, nurses and carabinieri who rushed to the Mottarone mountain in the Alps after the cable car fell.
14 people died on Sunday when the cable car, which had been transporting passengers from the resort town of Stresa up the Mottarone mountain in the region of Piedmont in northern Italy, fell from its cable to the ground.
Rescuers found five bodies still inside the car, with the others all scattered outside.
Aside from Eitan’s relatives, the dead included Alessandro Merlo, 29, his fiance Silvia Malnati, 27; husband Angelo Vito Gasparro, 45, and wife Roberta Pistolato; Vittorio Zorloni, his fiancee Elisabetta Persanini, 38, and the couple's five-year-old son Mattia; and lovers Serena Cosentino, 27, and Mohammadreza Shahaisavandi, 23.
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Two children were airlifted to a hospital in Turin, but while Eitan survived the other child, understood to be Mattia, later died.
The first funerals of some of the deceased took place in Italy and Israel on Thursday.
Local reports suggested the cable may have failed at around 300m (984ft) from the top of the mountain.
The car then reportedly fell about 20m to the ground and rolled over down the slope before being stopped by trees.
Luigi Nerini, 56, head of Ferrovie del Mottarone, the firm which manages the cable car, was arrested on Wednesday along with his two colleagues Gabriele Tadini and Enrico Perocchio.
Prosecutors have since labelled the incident the result of a ‘deliberate choice’ on behalf of the operators, raising the question of negligence.
The case continues.
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