At least 16 people were reported killed today in Italy, as a school bus they were riding left the road, crashed, and burst into flame near Verona, the BBC reports.
Italian news agency Ansa said many students, mainly boys aged between 14 and 18, were thrown from the bus in the wreck. The students were from Budapest, Hungary, and were on their way home from France after a school ski trip. Initial reports didn’t say why the bus left the road, but investigators are looking into the possibility that the driver fell asleep.
Some students had to be extricated from the burning bus, and of 26 people who suffered non-fatal injuries, 10 were reportedly in serious condition as of Saturday night. One was in an induced coma but is expected to survive.
Ansa quoted Judit Timaffy, Hungary’s consul-general in Milan, as saying several students were rescued by one of the teachers on the bus, who returned to the bus after the fire started to drag them out. The teacher suffered severe burns on his back during the rescue and was also treated at the hospital.
According to Hungarian foreign minister Peter Szijjarto, the bus struck a guard rail before leaving the road, striking a pylon that supports an overpass, and catching fire. The impact with the pylon was so severe that the column tore through the bus, according to a report in the Daily Mail.
“The kids told me that the fire started and they escaped from the fire by breaking the bus windows,” the paper quoted Ms Timaffy as saying. “Some of them managed to escape, but many were left inside.”
The students’ school, the Szinyei Merse Pal Gimnazium school, organizes a ski trip like this one every year. About 60 students and a few teachers go along. The bus this year officially had 54 people and two drivers on board, though the actual number may have been higher.