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Europe

Dozens killed after bus plunges into ravine in Italy

© AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-07-29

A bus plunged off of a highway into a ravine outside Naples in southern Italy on Sunday night, killing at least 39 people, after the driver apparently lost control of the vehicle for reasons undetermined.

A bus carrying a group of Italians plunged off a highway into a ravine in southern Italy on Sunday night, killing at least 39 people, in what is one of the worst road accidents the country has seen.

Initial reports described the bus travelling at speed before the driver apparently lost control of the vehicle for unknown reasons, slamming into four or five cars. The bus then crashed over the roadside barriers on a highway near the town of Monteforte Irpino, east of Naples.

Many children were said to be among the estimated 50 people on board.

“It was an immense tragedy where we first had to rescue the injured people who were trapped inside the coach and then successively have had to work to pull out the bodies,” said Alessio Barbarulo, head of the local fire brigade division that coordinated the rescue effort.

Crushed wreckage from the bus lay on its side, while bodies covered in white sheets were lined up on the road. It was not clear for the moment whether there was any mechanical damage to the vehicle’s brakes or problems with its tyres, or whether there was any fault on the part of the driver, who was killed in the accident.

“You would think that the barriers on the viaducts and bridges should prevent this type of accident but evidently it seems the impact was so strong that even the barrier gave way,” Barbarulo said.

Prosecutors have already opened an investigation into the case.

All of the victims appear to have been Italians returning from an excursion to the town of Telese Terme, known for its hot sulphurous springs and a nearby lake popular as a fishing spot. Local media said the stretch of road where the bus crashed had been the scene of repeated accidents.

The incident is the second major transport disaster to hit southern Europe in the past five days. Seventy-nine people were killed when a high-speed train derailed in the Spanish pilgrimage town of Santiago de Compostela on Wednesday.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

Date created : 2013-07-29

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