At least 38 people died when a bus plowed through a guard rail and plunged into a ravine in southern Italy, a police official said.
The bus was traveling downhill near Baiano, Italy -- about 40 kilometers (25 miles) from Naples -- and crashed into a line of slow-moving traffic on a bridge at about 8:30 p.m. local time yesterday, said the official, who asked not to be named citing police policy. He said authorities were investigating the cause of the crash.
“The driver must have had a technical problem of some sort,” Transport Minister Maurizio Lupi said in an interview on Italian television network Sky TG24. “There’s evidence he swerved and lost control but we will have to ascertain the causes, we don’t know right now.”
The bus then broke through a guardrail on a bridge and fell 30 meters (98 feet), according to the police. Television stations broadcast images of the mangled wreckage at the bottom of a ravine.
Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta, speaking at an event in Athens, said it’s a “very sad day for Italy, a very sad moment.” Giorgio Napolitano termed the incident “an unacceptable disaster” that requires a “tenacious commitment to road safety.”
Forty-eight people, including children, were on the bus returning to Naples after a three-day trip from Talese Terme, newspaper Corriere della Sera reported on its website. The 10 survivors were hospitalized and some are in critical condition, Sky reported.
The crash scene has been cleared enough to reopen the A16 highway that connects Naples to the southern region of Apulia.
The bus crash follows last week’s train accident near Santiago, Spain that killed 79 people during the culmination of St. James festivities, the Christian religious ceremony and popular festival that commemorates the saint known in Spanish as Santiago.