21 dead when bus plunges off bridge in Venice

Henry

At least 21 people were killed and scores injured when a bus plunged off a bridge in Venice, Italy, and caught fire on Tuesday night.

The battery-powered bus landed on its roof after falling more than ten meters, says Mauro Luongo, commander of the fire department in Venice.

The bus was transporting tourists from Venice’s historic center to a camping site when the accident occurred around 19:30.

According to firefighters, the bus left the road and crashed near railway lines in the Mestre district, which is connected to Venice by a bridge.

Among the dead were the bus driver, two children and foreign tourists from Ukraine. According to information, there were also tourists from Croatia, Germany and France among the injured. However, this has yet to be confirmed.

A total of 19 people died on the scene, and two shortly afterwards in a hospital.

Emergency workers also scrambled for hours to remove bodies from the wreckage of the bus.

Luongo says the cause of the accident is still under investigation. Authorities are also combing CCTV footage to try to determine what happened.

However, they suspect that the electric batteries of the bus caught fire during the impact. Furthermore, it is also speculated that the bus driver suddenly fell ill and lost control of the bus. Italian transport minister Matteo Salvini is one of those proposing the latter scenario.

Compassion

“A tragedy struck our community tonight,” said Luigi Brugnaro, mayor of Venice, on Tuesday evening. He described the accident scene as an “apocalyptic scene”.

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, French President Emmanuel Macron and the head of the European Union, Ursula von der Leyen, expressed their condolences to the victims’ loved ones.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said she was deeply saddened by the tragedy.

“In this night of sadness, my thoughts are with the victims, their families and friends,” she said.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the German Department of Foreign Affairs told AFP that its embassy in Rome is working with Italian authorities to check whether German citizens are among the victims.

In July 2018, a bus carrying a group of around 50 holidaymakers to Naples also fell from a bridge near the city. A total of 40 people died in the accident.