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Bus crash in southern Italy kills 38 people

ROME -- An Italian tour bus plowed through cars, crashed through the
side wall of a highway bridge and plunged into a ravine, killing at
least 38 people, authorities said Monday.

Rescuers wielding electric saws cut through the twisted wreckage of the
bus looking for survivors overnight, and state radio quoted a local
police chief as saying the bus driver was among the dead.

The bus lost control near the town of Monteforte Irpino in Irpinia, a
largely agricultural area about 60 kilometers (40 miles) inland from
Naples and about 250 kilometers (160 miles) south of Rome, hitting
several cars before plunging  some 30 meters (100 feet) off a viaduct on
Sunday night.

It was not immediately clear why the bus driver lost control of the
vehicle, but prosecutors were investigating technical problems and had
ordered an autopsy on the driver.

Italy’s Prime Minister Enrico Letta described the crash as a “dramatic moment” for his entire country.

‘’We are deeply pained by this tragedy that has touched many families
and many children,” Letta said from Athens, where he met with Greek
Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.

A reporter for Naples daily Il Mattino, Giuseppe Crimaldi, told Sky TG24
TV from the scene that some witnesses told him the bus had been going
at a “normal” speed on the downhill stretch of the highway when it
suddenly veered and started hitting cars. Some witnesses thought they
heard a noise as if the bus had blown a tire.

‘’All possible causes are under examination. It could be a combination
of causes,” Avellino Highway Police Chief Salvatore Imparato said on Sky
TG24.

The bus was carrying a group of weekend holidaymakers from the town of
Pozzuoli, on the coast east of Naples. The group had arrived at a hotel
on Friday afternoon, and had spent the weekend visiting the spa and an
early home of Padre Pio, a late mystic monk popular among Catholics,
Michele Montagna, the manager of the hotel, told Sky TG24.

Relatives visited a makeshift morgue in a middle school to identify the
dead on Monday. The bus, meanwhile, was towed from the site to be
examined for possible malfunctions.

Firefighters extracted 37 bodies from the wreckage. Most of the dead
were found inside the mangled bus, which lay on its side, while a few of
the victims were pulled out from underneath the wreckage, state radio
and the Italian news agency ANSA reported.  One person died at the
hospital.

At least 10 people, including five children, remained hospitalized on Monday.

Cars that were hit by the bus stood on the highway. One car’s rear was
completely crumpled, while another was smashed on its side. It was not
immediately known if anyone in those cars had been injured.

Source: http://www.khou.com/news/world/Rescuers-say-24-bodies-in-Italy-bus-plunge---217318211.html

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