Search This Blog

Thursday, February 3, 2022

Cavalese Cable car accident - this day in 1998 & the compensation !

Triplicane High road was earlier known as Tram road as Trams ,  referring to a unique form of transport that existed more than 6 decades ago.A tram (tramcar) is a rail vehicle which runs on tracks along public roads.  Tram transport in India was established by the British in the 19th  century ~  the first electric tram service was started in Madras in 1895 and went out of reckoning in 1953 in Chennai.In western Countries, there are similar cable cars .. .. open as well as closed, hauled above the ground by means of cables.   Aerial lift systems are frequently employed in a mountainous territory where roads are extensively found in famous tourist sites on mountains.  .. ..

Ahead of what turned out to be a long and drawn-out presidential election in Italy last week, the country’s incumbent Sergio Mattarella, at 80 years old, had set his eyes on retirement and was reportedly set to move out of the Quirinale, the presidential palace in Italy’s capital, and into a rented apartment in Rome.

After six days of inconclusive voting, however, and with little consensus or compromise among 1,009 Italian lawmakers and regional representatives over who should take over the role, Mattarella was convinced to stay on — in particular, after a personal intervention by Prime Minister Mario Draghi who reportedly told Mattarella that Italy needed him — ahead of the eighth round of voting on Saturday.In that round, Mattarella gained 759 votes, far more than the simple majority of 505 votes needed to be cast by Italy’s “Grand Electors,” with a prolonged applause in Parliament as the result was announced.After accepting his new mandate, Mattarella — who has previously (and repeatedly) expressed a desire to retire from the largely ceremonial role, which carries a seven-year term in office — said he was obliged to put the good of the country first.Political analysts and economists agree that Mattarella’s re-election guarantees some short-term stability in Italy’s fractured political scene, however the coalition government and Draghi (who had himself expressed a wish to move to the presidential office but did not receive enough votes) have an uphill battle ahead with a series of reforms needed in order to unlock European recovery funds.

No post on Italy’s political scenario but about an accident that occurred this day in 1998 at Cavalese  that had serious International repercussions.  Among the twenty killed, nineteen passengers and one operator, were seven Germans, five Belgians, three Italians, two Poles, two Austrians, and one Dutch.President Bill Clinton offered an official apology  and promised monetary compensation. Thomas M. Foglietta, U.S. Ambassador to Italy at the time, visited the crash site and knelt in prayer, offering apologies on behalf of the United States.

Cavalese  is a comune of 4,004 inhabitants in Trentino, northern Italy, a ski resort and the main center in the Fiemme Valley. The town is a renowned tourist location, during winter for cross-country and alpine skiing, and during summer for excursions. The cable car from Cavalese to the nearby mountain Cermis has been the site of two major cable-car accidents, one in 1976 and one in 1998.  In Italy, where the event received the name of Strage del Cermis, the low-level flight was strongly criticized and some politicians called for a re-evaluation of rules or a complete ban of such exercises, though low-level flight was already illegal.

On February 3, 1998, an EA-6B Prowler, BuNo (bureau number) 163045, 'CY-02', callsign Easy 01, an electronic warfare aircraft belonging to Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 2 (VMAQ-2) of the United States Marine Corps, was on a low-altitude training mission. At 15:13 local time it struck the cables supporting the cable car from Cavalese. The aircraft was flying at a speed of 870 kilometres per hour (540 mph) and at an altitude of between 80 and 100 metres (260 and 330 ft) in a narrow valley between the mountains.  At a low altutide,  the aircraft's right wing struck the cables from underneath. The cable was severed causing the cabin from Cermis with twenty people on board to plunge over 80 metres (260 ft), leaving no survivors. The plane had wing and tail damage but was able to return to Aviano Air Base.

It was suggested that the warfare aircraft flew low, in order for the pilots to "have fun" and "take videos of the scenery”!  Joseph Schweitzer, one of the two American pilots, confessed in 2012 that he had burnt the tape containing incriminating evidence upon returning to the American base.The pilot, Captain Richard J. Ashby, and his navigator, Captain Joseph Schweitzer, were put on trial in the United States and found not guilty of involuntary manslaughter and negligent homicide. Later they were found guilty of obstruction of justice and conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman for having destroyed a videotape recorded from the plane, and were dismissed from the Marine Corps.

The disaster, and the subsequent acquittal of the pilots, strained relations between the U.S. and Italy.By Feb 1999, the victims' families had received US$65,000 (equivalent to $100,980 in 2020) per victim as immediate help by the Italian government.  In May 1999, the U.S. Congress rejected a bill that would have set up a $40 million compensation fund for the victims.In Dec 1999, the Italian Parliament approved a monetary compensation plan for the families ($1.9 million per victim). NATO treaties obligated the U.S. government to pay 75% of this compensation, which it did.

Though human lives are precious and monetary compensation would be no measure, one is saddened to think of the fate of thousands of victims of Motor vehicle accidents, especially involving State transport vehicles in the State and in the country.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
3rd Feb 2022. 

No comments:

Post a Comment