Six killed as snowmobile plunges off piste in Italy


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The Independent Online

Six Russian tourists were killed and two others were injured when their snowmobile crashed through a fence and plunged about 100 metres during a night-time run down an Italian ski slope.

RAI state radio said the crash occurred on an unlit black run – the most difficult category – late on Friday, on Mount Cermis in the Fiemme Valley in north-east Italy.

The Russian consul general in Milan, Alexei Parmonov, said on Russian state television that he was in contact with Italian investigators, who, he said, suspect the snowmobile was travelling excessively fast. They were also checking the possibility of a mechanical malfunction.

Russian news reports said the snowmobile was pulling a sled, which is where most of the passengers were sitting. Mr Parmonov identified the four men and two women who died in the crash.

Five of them and also one of the injured men were tourists from Krasnodar, a region in southern Russia that includes Sochi, which is due to hold the 2014 Winter Olympics. One of the dead women and the other injured man worked in Italy in the tourist industry.

In 1976, 42 people died on Mount Cermis in the world's worst cable car disaster, and in 1998 a US jet, flying low on a training run over the mountain, accidentally sliced a ski gondola's cable, sending the car crashing to the ground and claiming 20 lives.