Tunnel fire driver 'had no licence or permit'

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The driver believed to have caused last week's fatal accident in the Gotthard Tunnel in Switzerland did not have a proper permit to drive his Belgian truck, officials said yesterday.

The Turkish national, Sefy Aslan Ufacik, 46, who is missing presumed dead after the tunnel fire, entered Belgium on a tourist visa and was working for a trucking firm without a valid work permit or a Belgian truck driver's licence, the Transport Ministry in Brussels said.

Swiss police said Ufacik's vehicle collided with another truck, starting the fire in the tunnel that has so far left 11 confirmed dead and 16 missing.

The tunnel, the second- longest road tunnel in the world at 10.6 miles (16.9km) is a main link between Italy and northern Europe. It is expected to be closed for two to six months.

Belgian media reported that Ufacik started work for Gul Transport in Aalst on 7 September. The company is under investigation by Belgian authorities in connection with the Gotthard case. According to a report in the Belgian newspaperDe Morgen, Gul Transport itself did not have correct operating permits from the Transport Ministry. – AP