• Italy edition
 
Manslaughter probe launched into bus crash
The coach plunged 30 metres down a slope. Photo: AFP/Stringer

Manslaughter probe launched into bus crash

Published: 29 Jul 2013 00:28 GMT+02:00
Updated: 29 Jul 2013 00:28 GMT+02:00

A coach carrying pilgrims plunged off a motorway flyover in southern Italy, killing at least 38 people in one of the worst such accidents in Europe in recent years.

A coach carrying pilgrims plunged off a motorway flyover in southern Italy, killing at least 38 people in one of the worst such accidents in Europe in recent years.

Local prosecutors on Monday launched an investigation into possible manslaughter over Sunday evening's accident close to the town of Avellino near Naples, according to Italian media reports.

Rescuers were still battling Monday to extract people from the wreckage.

The vehicle, carrying about 50 people, had been travelling at high speed when it crashed on a busy dual carriageway between Naples and Bari in an area Italian media described as an accident black spot.

It rammed several cars before plunging through a crash barrier and down a steep slope before coming to a stop on its side off the road about 50 kilometres from Naples.

The driver was among the dead and at least a dozen people were injured, including children. There were reports that some people in the dozen or so cars caught up in the chaos had also been hurt.

Italian news agency ANSA said the manslaughter probe would look into the possible role of the driver in the accident, as well as the state of the coach and the crash barrier on the highway.

Ansa said the driver's body would be examined for the possible presence of alcohol or drugs while traffic police have seized the vehicle documents from the coach operator Mondotravel.

An AFP photographer at the scene described rescue workers searching the crash site early Monday under arc-lights set up around the wreckage of the coach.

"The situation is critical. Our men are working to save as many lives as possible," fire chief Pellegrino Iandolo told Sky TG24.

Rescue workers said they had pulled 33 bodies from the wreckage and found three more of people thrown from the vehicle as it plunged 30 metres down a slope.

Another two died in hospital of their injuries.

"We are still trying to extract people from the vehicle," a police spokesman said. "Our priority now is to free the wounded."

Photographers at the scene described how fire crews raced to find any remaining survivors, as the victims were laid out under white sheets along the roadside.

They said about a dozen wrecked cars littered the highway.

"Looking down from the overpass, the scene of the tragedy: some 30 bodies covered by white sheets, lined up along the roadside," said Cesare Abbate of Italy's ANSA news agency.

From time to time, rescue workers called for "a moment of silence" to listen for signs of life from the wreckage, he said.

One survivor, quoted by his uncle who met him in hospital, reported hearing a tyre exploding and that the driver had been unable to control the vehicle.

The passengers had been returning to Naples following a pilgrimage to Pietrelcina, the birthplace of Saint Pio, an Italian priest canonised in 2002 who is highly venerated in southern Italy.

The Naples-Bari highway has been closed to traffic, the police said.

The last major coach accident in Europe was in March 2012 in Switzerland, when a coach carrying Belgian schoolchildren home from a skiing holiday crashed, killing 28 people, including 22 children.

The accident also comes just days after a train crash in Spain last Wednesday which killed 79 people, the deadliest rail disaster in the country in decades.

The driver appeared in court on Sunday on 79 counts of reckless homicide over the crash near the pilgrimage city of Santiago de Compostela, northwest Spain.

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Pope sends condolences for S.Korea ferry victims
Pope Francis presides the Celebration of the Way of the Cross on Good Friday on April 18, 2014 at the Colosseum in Rome. AFP Photo / Alberto Pizzoli

Pope sends condolences for S.Korea ferry victims

Pope Francis on Saturday voiced condolences for the victims of a ferry disaster in South Korea, where 273 people are missing and 29 have been confirmed dead. READ () »

Armani settles tax row with €270m payoff
Giorgio Armani pictured in Milan in January 2014. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

Armani settles tax row with €270m payoff

Giorgio Armani settled a tax dispute in Italy by paying €270 million ($373 million) this week, Italian business daily Il Sole 24 Ore reported on Friday. READ () »

Kazakh tycoon's family granted refugee status
Mukhtar Ablyazov pictured with his daughter Alua in 2010. AFP Photo/Family hand out

Kazakh tycoon's family granted refugee status

Italy has granted political refugee status to the family of a Kazakh tycoon, who is in prison in France fighting an extradition order from Russia and Ukraine where he is wanted for massive fraud, lawyers said. READ () »

Renzi trims car perks in round of tax cuts
Italy's Prime Minister Matteo Renzi gives a speech during a campaign meeting of the Democratic Party. Photo: Marco Bertorello/AFP

Renzi trims car perks in round of tax cuts

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi on Friday hailed a "structural revolution" after his cabinet approved a round of tax and spending cuts including a limit of five chauffeured cars per government ministry. READ () »

Italian bank backs €5bn capital boost plan
Monte dei Paschi di Siena has given the go-ahead to a €5.0 billion equity raise. Photo: Fabio Muzzi/AFP

Italian bank backs €5bn capital boost plan

Italian bank Monte dei Paschi di Siena gave the go-ahead on Friday to a €5.0 billion equity raising that will boost its capital and allow it to repay a government bailout this year. READ () »

Veneto activists released from jail
The group allegedly converted a digger into a tank, which they planned to use to attack Venice. Photo: ROS Carabinieri

Veneto activists released from jail

A court in Brescia, northern Italy, has ordered the release from jail of seven activists who allegedly plotted to 'liberate' Venice with a homemade 'tank' earlier this month. READ () »

Sollecito takes girlfriend to Kercher murder house
Raffaele Sollecito was convicted alongside Amanda Knox of murdering Meredith Kercher. Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP

Sollecito takes girlfriend to Kercher murder house

Raffaele Sollecito, convicted in January alongside Amanda Knox of killing British student Meredith Kercher, has taken his girlfriend to the Perugia house where the murder took place, according to Italian media reports on Friday. READ () »

Italian of the Week
The dictator's grand-daughter vying for MEP
Alessandra Mussolini will compete in the upcoming European elections. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

The dictator's grand-daughter vying for MEP

Alessandra Mussolini, the granddaughter of Italy's fascist dictator, will compete in the upcoming European elections. Staunchly defensive of her heritage, The Local takes a look at the personality behind the woman who could be elected MEP for a second time. READ () »

Rome's 'artists' slash themselves over eviction
More than 100 painting sellers in Piazza Navona are said to work illegally. Photo:Hslo/Flickr

Rome's 'artists' slash themselves over eviction

An ‘artist’ in Piazza Navona, one of Rome’s busiest tourist areas, slashed himself in the stomach while another cut his own chest as police tried to evict them on Thursday. READ () »

Italy raises €371,400 from eBay luxury car sale
Alfa Romeos were among the luxury cars on offer. Photo: MinouraNito/Flickr

Italy raises €371,400 from eBay luxury car sale

Italy's government on Friday said it had raised €371,400 so far in an eBay auction of luxury official cars in a symbolic effort to cut outrageous spending by ministries that has sparked public anger. READ () »

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
Singing nun strikes again with 80s classic
Health
Italy embryo mix-up: real parents identified
National
Italian priest hits boy on scooter and flees
National
Outcry as Italy auctions off 'haunted island'
Culture
Rome street artist paints New York
Gallery
10 words you didn't know came from Italy
International
'The mafia has infiltrated every sector in Germany'
Features
'I want everyone to care about Italian history'
Italian Of The Week
The island carpenter with the Pope's blessing
National
Top 10: dream jobs in Italy for expats
National
Becoming a saint in five not-so-easy steps
Health
Italian woman dies after taking abortion drug
Advertisement:
Culture
Italy's looted treasures found in Rome 'museum'
Opinion
Why Italy might not exist in five years
Italian Of The Week
The world's fastest man on skis
National
Sheikh seeks woman in Italy for shopping blitz
National
British royals give Pope whisky and eggs
National
Top 10: Quirky Italian royalty facts
National
How to park like an Italian
National
Unique stucco homes up for grabs down south
Politics
Italy sells officials' luxury cars on eBay
National
VIDEO: American football team goes gay for a day
National
'We're very worried by rise of Nazis in Europe'
Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

413
jobs available