Italy train crash: death toll rises to 27

Rescuers work at the site where two passenger trains collided (Reuters)
Rescuers work at the site where two passenger trains collided (Reuters)

27 people are have now been confirmed dead and dozens injured after two passenger trains collided head-on yesterday in southern Italy.

The crash occurred on a single stretch of track in countryside between the small towns of Corato and Andria. Both trains were made up of four carriages.

Rescuers say they discovered the new bodies while sifting through the torn wreckage. Several of the injured are critical and the death toll is expected to rise.

It is still unclear whether the accident was due to human error or a technical problem on a stretch of track where safety is dependent on telephone calls rather than computer systems.

Italy train crash: death toll rises to 27

(Reuters)

An aerial image showed carriages smashed and crumpled by the force of the impact, with debris flung out amongst olive trees which flanked both sides of the track.

"We are working with dozens of rescue teams to open up the carriages," said Luca Cari, a fire service spokesman, adding they had saved a young boy from the wreckage.

"The rescue is complicated because this happened in the middle of the countryside," he said.

There was no immediate reason given for the collision, which took place about 11:30am local time on a hot summer's day in the region of Puglia.

"We won't stop until we get a clear explanation over what happened," Prime Minister Matteo Renzi told reporters, cutting short a visit to Milan in northern Italy to return to Rome.

A photograph handed to reporters by the fire brigade showed just four carriages left standing upright on the rails. A fifth carriage had jumped off the tracks, while the other three units appeared pulverised.

"It looks like there has been a plane crash," said the mayor of Corato, Massimo Mazzilli.

Italy train crash: death toll rises to 27

(Reuters)

The stretch of track is operated by a regional rail company Ferrotramviaria. It was not clear how many people had been on the trains.

The last major rail disaster in Italy was in 2009 when a freight train derailed in Viareggio, in the centre of the country, with more than 30 people living close to the tracks killed in the subsequent fire.

Reuters