Trial in deadly cable car fire begins

Wednesday, June 19, 2002

VIENNA, Austria -- Cable car operators, technicians and government officials created a "mosaic of mistakes" that led to the deaths of 155 people in a grisly cable car fire at a ski resort, a prosecutor said Tuesday.

More than 19 months after Austria's deadliest peacetime disaster, 16 defendants went on trial Tuesday for negligence concerning the Nov. 11, 2000, inferno in Kaprun, 60 miles south of Salzburg. Eight victims were Americans.

"The fire was preventable," said Salzburg's public prosecutor, Eva Danniger-Soriat.

The operators, technicians and government officials bypassed safety measures that could have saved the lives of the victims, Danniger-Soriat was quoted by the Austria Press Agency as saying.

The fire broke out as a crowded cable car carried 161 skiers, snowboarders and a driver up the Kitzsteinhorn glacier.

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