Fourteen people died including five Israelis on Sunday when a cable car slammed into the side of a mountain in northern Italy near Lake Maggiore.

Iran PressEurope: An Israeli couple living in Italy died along with one child, while their five-year-old was fighting for his life with brain trauma and broken legs, according to the Alpine rescue service.

A nine-year-old Italian child was also among the dead, it said, adding that the toll could rise further from the accident in Stresa, a resort town on the shores of Lake Maggiore in Italy's Piedmont region, it said.

President Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Mario Draghi expressed their "profound grief", offering condolences to the victims' families as regional as well as EU leaders expressed their sorrow and shock.

The 20-minute cable car ride, popular with tourists, links Stresa with the 1,500-metre (4,900-foot) summit of the Mottarone mountain and offers spectacular views of the Alps.

The ministry of infrastructure said in a statement that the accident occurred around 12:30 pm (1030 GMT) as the cabin, with 15 people aboard and a maximum capacity of 35, was about 100 meters from the summit.

The ministry said the accident appeared to have been caused by a ruptured cable near the top of the route.

Stresa Mayor Marcella Severino said the cable car "began to go backward (and) probably hit a pylon."

Infrastructure Minister Enrico Giovannini announced an inquiry into what he called "a dramatic occurrence which we are following most attentively".