“A huge tragedy” is how Italy’s Prime Minister Enrico Letta described the coach crash in which 39 people have so far been declared dead, with a further 10 reported injured. Thirty-six were killed immediately, while another three died in hospital officials confirmed.
The coach hit four or five cars before crashing over roadside barriers and plunging into a deep ravine in one of the country’s worst road accidents. Initial reports suggest it was travelling too fast.
The coach was taking about 50 people, including children back to Naples after a pilgrimage, when it crashed on the A16 motorway near Avellino. One of the first people on the scene described the carnage.
“I heard screams shouting “This is a tragedy, a tragedy! “At first I thought it was two cars. I ran to the scene and when I got there I realised that it was a tragedy, something horrible. I helped four children, we put their bodies on the road. We helped with the relief operations. There were bodies everywhere. People were screaming: “help me, help me”. I didn’t know what to do.”
Another man whose sister-in-law was among the dead said: “We went to the site to identify the bodies of our relatives, but it was not always possible to recognise them. It was difficult to identify the bodies.”
Transport Minister Maurizio Lupi said the vehicle had passed its annual inspection in March and there was no indication of any technical problems.
Tests are being carried out on the driver’s body as part of the investigation into what caused the accident.
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