The aftermath of a bus crash Tuesday night that killed at least 21 people, including three children, and injured 15 after the vehicle plunged 50 feet from an overpass near Venice. Photo by Andrea Merola/EPA-EFE
Oct. 4 (UPI) -- A bus plunged 50 feet from an overpass and burst into flames just outside Venice killing at least 21 people, including three children.
The vehicle with 39 people on board crashed through a barrier and fell onto a road below Tuesday evening in the city of Mestre which is linked to Venice by a bridge, authorities said.
Those killed included five Ukrainians, one German and the Italian driver of the bus said city prefect Michele Di Bari. Emergency services said a baby was among the three children killed.
At least 15 people were injured, five seriously, mostly young Ukrainians, Austrians, Spaniards and other foreign nationals who were en route from Venice to a campsite in the city's Marghera district on the chartered service.
Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi warned the number of casualties was likely to rise.
None of the dead or injured have been identified but Italian media named the driver as 40-year-old Alberto Rizzotto.
Fire and emergency workers battled to rescue passengers but were beaten back by an intense fire believed to have been caused by methane gas that powered the hybrid vehicle igniting.
The batteries also caught fire, according to fire brigade commander Mauro Longo, although it was unclear which fire broke out first.
Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro said he had ordered a day of mourning for what he said was a "huge tragedy."
"An apocalyptic scene, there are no words," he wrote in a post on Twitter.
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni sent "deepest condolences" on behalf of herself and the government and said that she was being kept up-to-date by Brugnaro and Piantedosi
"Our thoughts go out to the victims and their family and friends. I am in close contact with Mayor Brugnaro and Interior Minister Piantedosi," Meloni wrote on social media.
Witnesses and CCTV reportedly indicate the bus was in queuing traffic on the overpass when it suddenly made "an excessive maneuver" and fell from the road, suggesting Rizzotto may have either fallen asleep or been taken ill, according to the daily Corriere Della Sera newspaper.
The paper said authorities would know more once they viewed video that firefighters were trying to recover from cameras recording inside the bus.