Three Italian firefighters killed in mystery explosion at abandoned farm

Three firefighters in northern Italy were killed on Tuesday by a mysterious explosion at an abandoned farm building that police say may have been “deliberately set”.

Three Italian firefighters killed in mystery explosion at abandoned farm
Firefighters at the scene of the explosion in Piedmont early on Tuesday morning. Photo: AFP/Vigili del Fuoco

The team of firefighters had responded after midnight to an alert about a gas leak in the small town of Quargnento in the Piedmont region of the country, police said.

As the firefighters attempted to put out a fire in an abandoned farm building, the explosion occurred, bringing down the entire structure and killing the three men.

Firefighters working in the rubble of the ruined farm building following the explosion on Tuesday morning. Photo Italian firefighters/The Local

In a nearby building, authorities found an unexploded gas cylinder, a timer, and electrical wire, the local prosecutor said.

“All this leads us to believe that the explosion was intended and deliberately set,” local prosecutor Enrico Cieri said.

Part of the device believed to have caused the explosion. Photo: Italian firefighters/The Local

Two other firefighters and a member of Italy's Carabinieri law enforcement corps were injured in the incident.

Those killed were aged 32, 38 and 46, Italian firefighters told The Local.

The Local understands that emergency services workers on the scene believe the fire may have been set intentionally, and that the explosion was not an accident.

“There's something very wrong here,” said one source. “If this was done deliberately, I can't understand why. But that is what it looks like.”

Local press reports said investigators were looking into possible insurance fraud or a family dispute behind the inferno.

On social media, the Italian fire brigade paid tribute to those killed, saying the fire service felt “pain” at the loss of the three colleagues.

The Italian fire brigade also released an aerial video showing the area where the incident took place.


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Italy’s president calls for ‘full truth’ on anniversary of Bologna bombing

President Sergio Mattarella said on Tuesday it was the state's duty to shed more light on the 1980 bombing of Bologna's train station, on the 42nd anniversary of the attack that killed 85 people and injured 200.

Italy's president calls for 'full truth' on anniversary of Bologna bombing

On August 2nd 1980, a bomb exploded in the railway station’s waiting room, causing devastation on an unprecedented scale.

Five members of terrorist groups were later convicted in relation to the bombing, the worst episode in Italy’s ‘Years of Lead’ period of political violence in the 1970s and 80s.

Most recently, in 2020, a former member of the far-right Armed Revolutionary Nucleus (NAR) was sentenced to life imprisonment for providing logistical support to those who carried out the attack.

But suspicions remain of cover-ups and the involvement of “deviant elements” within the nation’s security services, reported Italian news agency Ansa.

READ ALSO: Bologna massacre: 40 years on, questions remain over Italy’s deadliest postwar terror attack

“The bomb that killed people who happened to be at the station on that morning 42 years ago still reverberates with violence in the depths of the country’s conscience,” Mattarella said in a speech marking the anniversary on Tuesday.

“It was the act of cowardly men of unequalled inhumanity, one of the most terrible of the history of the Italian Republic.

A train compartment at Bologna station pictured following the 1980 bombing attributed to the neo-fascist terrorist organization Nuclei Armati Rivoluzionari.

“It was a terrorist attack that sought to destabilise democratic institutions and sow fear, hitting ordinary citizens going about their everyday tasks.

“On the day of the anniversary our thoughts go, above all, to the relatives forced to suffer the greatest pain.

“The neo-fascist nature of the massacre has been established in court and further steps have been made to unveil the cover-ups and those who ordered the attack in order to comply with the Republic’s duty to seek the full truth”.

The bombing remains Western Europe’s fourth deadliest postwar terror attack, and one of the most devastating in Italy’s history.