An Italian woman and her Iranian partner who died in the Stresa-Mottarone cable car crash will not be able to be buried together due to their different religious backgrounds.
Serena Cosentino and her partner, Mohammadreza “Hesam” Shahaisavandi, were amongst the 14 victims who lost their lives in the crash on northern Italy’s Mount Mottarone on 23rd May 2021.
Serena was Catholic and Hesam Muslim, and there is no civil cemetery in the southern Italian comune of Diamante, from which Serena hailed. Father Eugenio Hounglonou, who will officiate Serena’s funeral on 27th May, said: “Serena’s family would have liked her partner to be buried with her too, but it will not be possible; a civil cemetery would be needed.”
Given Hesam cannot be buried alongside his partner, his family has begun the paperwork for his body to be repatriated to his native Iran.
Serena and Hesam met while studying at Rome’s renowned Sapienza University. They had plans to continue living together in Italy. Serena, aged 27, had just started a research fellowship at the Water Research Institute in Verbania, close to where the accident took place. Hesam, who was still studying civil engineering in Rome, had taken advantage of his free Sunday to visit Serena in the north of the country on the day of the tragedy.
Neither family has yet commented on the latest news that the cable car brakes had been “tampered with”, according to investigators.
Three people have since been arrested for involuntary manslaughter and negligence.
The sole survivor of the accident was a five-year-old boy, who remains in intensive care.
Antonella Polimeni, rector of the Sapienza university, said: “The indelible memory of two young people who engaged in university life with enthusiasm and seriousness will remain.”