Rome • A tour bus filled with Italians returning home after an excursion plunged off a highway into a ravine in southern Italy on Sunday night after it had smashed into several cars that were slowed by heavy traffic, killing at least 37 people, said police and rescuers.
Flashing signs near Avellino, outside Naples, had warned before the crash occurred of slowed traffic ahead along a stretch of the A116 autostrada, a major highway crossing southern Italy, said highway police and officials, speaking on state radio early Monday. They said the bus driver, for reasons not yet determined, appeared to have lost control of the vehicle.
Hours after the crash, firefighters said that they had extracted 37 bodies most of the dead were found inside the mangled bus, which lay on its side, while a few of the victims were pulled out from underneath the wreckage, state radio and the Italian news agency ANSA reported.
The radio report said 11 people were hospitalized with injuries, two of them in very critical condition. It was not immediately known if there were other survivors or any missing.
Rescuers wielding electric saws cut through the twisted metal to better probe the interior of the bus, stopping occasionally in silence to listen for any cries for help, even as the bodies were put into coffins to be taken to a morgue.