Antonio Calanni Associated Press For a reason still undetermined, the vehicle rammed the safety rail of the bridge and fell ten meters, crashing below near a railway line.
The City of Venice declared a three-day mourning on Wednesday, in shock the day after the fall of a tourist bus from the top of a bridge, which left 21 dead, including 2 children, a tragedy relaunching the controversy over the often deplorable state of infrastructure in Italy.
The precise circumstances of the accident are not yet known. Even if the preferred hypothesis is that of driver discomfort, the poor maintenance of the road network in the peninsula is also once again debated, while the country remains traumatized by the collapse of the Genoa road bridge in 2018, which had left 43 dead.
In addition to a three-day mourning, the mayor of Venice, Luigi Brugnaro, ordered that flags be flown at half-mast on official buildings. Books of condolences were also made available to people wishing to express their sadness “for the immense tragedy that struck the city.”
The damaged bus, which usually operates regular urban lines, had been rented by a private company to transport around forty foreign tourists. They had just visited the historic center of Serenissima on the lagoon and were returning to their campsite on dry land shortly after 7:30 p.m.
For an as yet undetermined reason, the vehicle crashed into the safety rail of the bridge and fell ten meters, crashing below near a railway line between Mestre and Marghera, two towns forming part of the municipality of Venice. .
Fall of ten meters
“The bus turned over. The impact was terrible,” explained Venetian fire chief Mauro Luongo.
Boubacar Touré, a 27-year-old worker from Gambia working on a construction site next to the crash site, told reporters he helped firefighters save passengers. “I extracted three or four people, including a little girl, and also a dog. The driver was already dead,” he testified.
The wreckage of the bus, an all-electric Chinese brand E12 Yutong model, was removed at dawn.
< p>The fire chief explained that “among the difficulties encountered was the fact that the bus was electric and therefore had batteries. Unfortunately, they caught fire upon impact.”
But a local fire official interviewed by AFP on Wednesday on condition of anonymity assured that there was nothing to confirm that the presence of burning electric batteries had slowed down the rescue efforts.
Investigators are looking for always to identify victims who did not carry identity documents, in particular by cross-checking with the registers of the campsite where they were staying.
The still provisional toll is 21 dead, including a one-year-old child and a teenager, and 15 injured, including five in serious condition, the prefect of Venice, Michele di Bari, confirmed at midday during a a press conference.
15 This is the number of people who were injured in the accident, according to the prefect of Venice, Michele di Bari.
Among the identified dead “are five Ukrainians, an Italian, who is the driver, and a German,” he said. “Among the injured, who number 15, there are 4 Ukrainians, 1 German, 1 French, 1 Croatian, 2 Spaniards”, and “4 have yet to be identified”.
Kiev has his side reports four Ukrainians killed and four injured.
“The injured are all young […] and all foreigners. Their loved ones are gradually arriving at the hospital in their countries of origin,” testified an emergency doctor, Federica Stella, who participated in the rescue.
The main hypothesis at the moment is that the bus driver, a 40-year-old Italian, fell ill, according to local authorities.
A video taken from a public network camera remote monitoring seems to rule out excessive speed, the bus was driving normally before falling.
For Domenico Musicco, president of the Association of Victims of Road Accidents at Work, the state of the roadway is obviously to blame. “It’s a tragedy foretold,” he told AFP. “This rail is made for a country road, whereas here, we needed new generation equipment that could have prevented the bus from falling. »
“The maintenance of Italian roads is poor. We invest too little in road safety. It is estimated that 30% of accidents are due to this,” he recalled.
The most serious accident of this kind in Italy to date occurred on July 28, 2013 , when a coach carrying around fifty Italian passengers fell from a viaduct near Naples, killing 40 people.