At least 21 people were killed and 18 were injured when a bus carrying mainly international tourists fell off an overpass in a fiery, “apocalyptic” crash near Venice, Italy Tuesday night.
The bus — which was en route to a campsite near the Marghera area — plowed through a barrier on the elevated street and plunged several feet onto an area near railroad tracks below in Mestre, where it caught fire, according to officials.
“The people in the bus found themselves surrounded by flames,” said Mauro Luongo, commander of the Venice firefighters team. “The scene we found was terrible. It took about one hour to extract some of the bodies.”
Venice’s mayor, Luigi Brugnaro, called the horrific crash “an apocalyptic scene” and declared the city to be in mourning in a social media post.
“A huge tragedy struck our community this evening… There are no words,” he said in a statement posted to X, formerly Twitter.
Two children, five Ukrainians, one German and the Italian bus driver were among the dead, Venice prefect Michele Di Bari said.
The death toll could also rise as at least four of the injured were left in serious condition, according to local authorities.
The wounded were rushed to five different hospitals in the region following the 7:45 p.m. crash.
It’s unclear what caused the bus to crash.
“This is an important tragedy, but it’s difficult to understand how it happened,” Veneto region governor, Luca Zaia, told RAI state television. “The bus was new and electric, and that street wasn’t particularly problematic.”
Emergency responders were working through the night to put out the flames and recover more bodies.
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni offered her “deepest condolences” to the victims and their loved ones and said she was in close contact with Brugnaro.
A similar tragedy claimed the lives of 16 people in 2016 when a bus carrying Hungarian students crashed near the northern city of Verona.
Three years earlier, 40 people died when a bus plunged off a viaduct near the southern city of Avellino in one of the country’s worst vehicle fatalities.
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