Spiegel: Fiat won’t close Opel plants

Italian carmaker Fiat is prepared to guarantee that Germany’s four Opel plants will stay open if it takes over the troubled General Motors subsidiary, news magazine Der Spiegel reported on Monday.

Spiegel: Fiat won't close Opel plants
Photo: DPA

“It has been made clear that the debts of the Fiat group will not be brought into the marriage,” an insider at the Turin-based automaker told the magazine. “These past burdens will not endanger the project.”

But Fiat will not be able to guarantee the German factories will continue producing at current levels, Der Spiegel added.

According to the Fiat insider, the idea to merge with Opel came from embattled US auto giant General Motors.

“They are presenting a very radical action plan for Opel and clearly seek an urgent solution for the problem at GM Europe,” the source told the magazine.

Meanwhile Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier called possible Opel talks with Canadian auto parts manufacturer Magna an “interesting option,” daily Financial Times Deutschland reported.

Debt-ridden Fiat’s interest in an Opel merger has been met with scepticism from German trade unions and politicians, and Steinmeier agreed with Economy Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg that a premature deal should be avoided.

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German tourists among 13 dead in Italy cable car accident

Thirteen people, including German tourists, have been killed after a cable car disconnected and fell near the summit of the Mottarone mountain near Lake Maggiore in northern Italy.

German tourists among 13 dead in Italy cable car accident
The local emergency services published this photograph of the wreckage. Photo: Vigili del Fuoco

The accident was announced by Italy’s national fire and rescue service, Vigili del Fuoco, at 13.50 on Sunday, with the agency saying over Twitter that a helicopter from the nearby town of Varese was on the scene. 

Italy’s National Alpine and Speleological Rescue Corps confirmed that there were 13 victims and two seriously injured people.

Italian daily Corriere della Sera reported that German tourists were among the 13 victims.

According to their report, there were 15 passengers inside the car — which can hold 35 people — at the time a cable snapped, sending it tumbling into the forest below. Two seriously injured children, aged nine and five, were airlifted to hospital in Turin. 

The cable car takes tourists and locals from Stresa, a resort town on Lake Maggiore up to a panoramic peak on the Mottarone mountain, reaching some 1,500m above sea level. 

According to the newspaper, the car had been on its way from the lake to the mountain when the accident happened, with rescue operations complicated by the remote forest location where the car landed. 

The cable car had reopened on April 24th after the end of the second lockdown, and had undergone extensive renovations and refurbishments in 2016, which involved the cable undergoing magnetic particle inspection (MPI) to search for any defects. 

Prime Minister Mario Draghi said on Twitter that he expressed his “condolences to the families of the victims, with special thoughts for the seriously injured children and their families”.

Infrastructure Minister Enrico Giovannini told Italy’s Tg1 a commission of inquiry would be established, according to Corriere della Sera: “Our thoughts go out to those involved. The Ministry has initiated procedures to set up a commission and initiate checks on the controls carried out on the infrastructure.”

“Tomorrow morning I will be in Stresa on Lake Maggiore to meet the prefect and other authorities to decide what to do,” he said.