At least 21 people were killed and 18 injured in a fiery bus crash in a borough of Venice, Italy, across the lagoon from its historic center, where firefighters and other emergency responders worked into the night trying to extract bodies and squelch the flames.
The bus was carrying foreign tourists, including Ukrainians, according to a Venice official, when it fell from an elevated street Tuesday in Mestre en route to a camping site near the community of Marghera.
“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 Mayor Luigi Brugnaro wrote on X (formerly, Twitter) that the crash scene was “apocalyptic” and declared the city in a state of mourning.
Four of the injured were in serious condition following the accident, which happened on the mainland just 9 km (3.7 miles) northwest of the old city of Venice, said Renato Boraso, a Venice city official. Two of the dead were children, Venice prefect Michele Di Bari said.
The injured were transferred to five different hospitals in the region.
According to local media, the bus fell a few meters before crashing close to Mestre's railway tracks, where it caught fire.
The Veneto region governor, Luca Zaia, told RAI state television that the cause of the accident was still unclear.
“This is an important tragedy, but it's difficult to understand how it happened," he said. "The bus was new and electric, and that street wasn't particularly problematic.”
In 2017, 16 people on a bus carrying Hungarian students died in an accident near the northern city of Verona. And in 2013, 40 people were killed in one of Italy's worst vehicle accidents when a bus plunged off a viaduct close to the southern city of Avellino.