School bus bursts into flames, killing 16

  • 22/01/2017

Sixteen people have been killed and about 40 others were injured when a bus carrying Hungarian students burst into flames on a highway in northern Italy.

The number of victims could rise to 18, "but certainly no more than that", the Hungarian consul in Italy Judit Timaffy said in the city of Verona.

The bus went off the road near a highway exit close to Verona overnight. The local highway police chief said it was carrying mostly teenage students, teachers and parents.

"Many children among the victims of the accident in Verona, a bus catches fire on impact with a pillar," national police said on Twitter.

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto told a news conference that the teenagers were from a Budapest secondary school, returning from their annual ski camp in France.

A spokesman for the minister said the school was the Szinyei Gimnazium.

The official passenger list included 54 people, Gabor Toth, director of the school, told national news agency MTI.

Toth said there were 36 students on board, some former students, three teachers and the family of one of the teachers.

All of the injured, ten of whom were assessed as "serious", were in a Verona hospital and twelve other passengers, who were "well", were staying in a hotel south of the city, the minister said.

Local highway police chief Girolamo Lacquaniti said the cause of the crash would be investigated.

"We are not aware of other vehicles being involved, it seems to have gone off the road of its own accord," he said.

A bus company employee said the bus was from German company Setra, had a capacity to seat up to 59 people, was in good condition and that the drivers were experienced.

"There was a lot of black smoke coming out of the back of the bus," a truck driver who was driving behind it before it went off the road told SKY TG24.

Police released photographs and television footage of the burned-out hulk near a road bridge.