At least 16 dead, 40 injured in Hungarian bus crash in Italy


Media reports that at least 16 people have died, and as many as 40 have been injured, after a Hungarian coach, carrying mostly teenagers, crashed and caught fire on the motorway near Verona, Italy late Friday night.

Candles lit in the memory of the victims of the coach crash. (Photo: János Marjai)

Reports suggest the bus was returning to Budapest after an annual school ski trip to the mountains in France.

Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera’s website said the coach had been carrying at least 50 passengers, mostly Hungarians aged between 14 and 18. It added that the death toll could well rise.

U.K. newspaper The Guardian quoted Girolamo Lacquaniti, head of Verona’s highway police, as saying most of the passengers were students; others were parents and teachers. It cited him telling SkyTG 24 television that the bus left the road near a highway exit, where it struck a pylon, and caught fire. Al Jazeera quoted Lacquaniti as saying: “We are not aware of other vehicles being involved, it seems to have gone off the road of its own accord.”

British tabloid The Daily Mail reported that 39 people had survived the crash, but around 10 of those are badly burned and in hospital. Italian news agency AGI said the French bus driver, together with his family, could be among the victims. Chilling images released by the police showed the mangled wreckage of the coach completely burned out near a bridge. The crash site had reportedly been cleared by around 8 a.m. this morning.

News agency Reuters said Hungary’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó had told a news conference this morning that the teenagers were from a Budapest secondary school, returning from their annual ski camp in France. He added that there was uncertainty over the exact number of passengers in the bus, but it was thought likely that it was higher than the director of the school had known about. Szijjártó reported that one of the crash victims was in a life-threatening condition and was being kept in a coma, while 12 other passengers were “well” and staying in a hotel in southern Verona, the wire service added.

By this morning messages of condolences were arriving. The Kazinform international news agency reported that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan has posted the following on Facebook: “We express our deepest condolences to our Hungarian friends on the death of children in a tragic bus accident in Verona and wish speedy recovery to those injured.”

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