Italy bus crash: Burst tyre may have caused coach to plunge from viaduct, killing at least 38

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Premier Enrico Letta cancels Greece trip, after 'huge tragedy'

MILAN

A burst tyre may have caused Sunday night’s horrific coach crash in southern Italy that killed at least 38 people after the vehicle plunged 30 metres from a viaduct, it has emerged.

The coach was carrying 48 holiday makers from Naples, including children, back from a visit to an early home of the popular saint Padre Pio, when the driver lost control at approximately 8.30 pm local time, near the town of Avellino in the hills outside Naples.

The coach smashed into the car in front causing a five-vehicle pile up on a bridge section of the A16 motorway before bursting through the crash barrier and falling into the escarpment.

Nine people in the five cars were injured. But their vehicles remained on the road. Ten other travellers in the coach were injured, all critically, one of whom is since thought to have died. Three young children were killed and five others injured, two of whom were, according to La Stampa, in a serious condition.

Rescue crews worked overnight to extract survivors and victims from the wreckage. A local school was converted into a makeshift morgue while the bodies are being identified.

The wounded were ferried to several different hospitals in the area, according to Alessio Barbarulo, commander of Avellino’s fire brigade.

Corriere della Sera reported this morning that so far 36 bodies had been recovered; 33 of the dead were found in the wrecked coach, and three bodies were found underneath the vehicle.

Italian Premier Enrico Letta cancelled a planned visit to the Acropolis in Athens. “It is a very sad day for Italy, what happened last night. There are no words for it,” he told reporters. “It is a huge tragedy.”

Investigators say faulty braking may have contributed to the tragedy; a statement from the motorway operator Autostrade per l'Italia said the coach appeared to have been travelling fast in the vicinity of slower-moving traffic.

But a burst tyre was today seen as the most likely cause, after survivors spoke of such an incident in the seconds before the accident.

Vincenzo Rusciano, the uncle of one of the children rushed to hospital in Avellino, said: “My niece told me that a tyre on the left-had side of the bus exploded. The driver tried to take control any way he could, but he failed and the bus swerved and finished down in the ravine.”

Prosecutors have opened a manslaughter probe into the crash. Mr Barbarulo said: “You would think that the barriers on the viaducts and bridges should prevent this type of accident but evidently it seems the impact was so strong that even the barrier gave way.”

It is not known whether the coach passengers were wearing seat belts – or if the vehicle had belts in working order.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Travel Consultant

£20000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in London, Manches...

Recruitment Genius: Stock Broker / Trainee Broker / Closer - OTE £250,000

£30000 - £250000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Stock Broker/ Trainee FX, Stoc...

Guru Careers: Software Developer / Web Developer (PHP / MYSQL)

£30 - 40k + Benefits & Bonus: Guru Careers: A Software / Web Developer (PHP / ...

Recruitment Genius: ICT Operations Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company is the single governing and regul...

Day In a Page

A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

Britain's Atlantis

Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

David Starkey's assessment
Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

'An enormous privilege and adventure'

Oliver Sacks writing about his life
'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago
Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935