At least 21 people were killed and 18 were injured when a bus crashed and fell off an overpass near Venice on Tuesday evening, local officials said.
The vehicle broke through the flyover’s guardrails before plunging around 30 feet, local media reported. It landed near railway lines in the Mestre district, where Venice connects to the mainland. The bus caught fire,although the blaze was quickly extinguished, a city official said.
“An apocalyptic scene, there are no words,” Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, adding that he declared a citywide state of mourning.
It wasn’t immediately clear what caused the accident. Renato Boraso, a Venice city councilor, said the 40-year-old Italian driver had “years of experience.” Boraso told Sky Italia television that the driver may have been ill before the crash.
The victims included Ukrainian and German tourists, Boraso said. The bus apparently was on the way to a campground.
Photos of the crash site showed the bus upside down, partly crushed and emitting a plume of smoke. Emergency responders, including firefighters, climbed into the overturned vehicle using ladders and shining flashlights, and carried away victims. Alarms blared and a helicopter flew overhead, videos from the scene showed.
“There are many deaths, too many,” one firefighter said while walking away from the scene, local newspaper Corriere Del Veneto reported. Two children were reportedly among the dead.
Un’immane tragedia ha colpito questa sera la nostra comunità.
Ho disposto da subito il lutto cittadino, in memoria delle numerose vittime che erano nell’autobus caduto.
Una scena apocalittica, non ci sono parole. pic.twitter.com/APnsQoPMkL
— Luigi Brugnaro (@LuigiBrugnaro) October 3, 2023
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni tweeted her “deepest condolences” for the victims of the accident. She said she was in close contact with top officials in Venice.
Likewise, Italian President Sergio Mattarella called the mayor of Venice to express his condolences for “the very serious tragedy,” according to a statement on social media from the office of the president.
The incident echoed the disastrous 2018 bridge collapse in Genoa that sent vehicles plunging almost 150 feet during heavy rain, killing 43 people. That tragedy was caused by deteriorating infrastructure, as a more than 200-yard section of the bridge broke apart. Dozens of people, mostly executives and engineers responsible for the bridge’s upkeep, have since faced charges of manslaughter and undermining transport safety.
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