ROME • A coach carrying Hungarian teenagers home from a school trip crashed and burst into flames on a motorway in northern Italy, killing 16 people, firefighters said yesterday.
Some 40 injured were taken to hospital following the accident near Verona on Friday night, which occurred when the vehicle smashed into a bridge pillar, according to emergency workers.
A huge inferno engulfed the bus, dramatic pictures released by police showed, completely destroying the interior and reducing the vehicle to a burnt-out wreck.
Some were killed when they were thrown from the coach as it hit the pillar around 11pm on Friday, but most were found badly charred inside the vehicle.
Most of those on board were Hungarian schoolchildren aged between 14 and 18, along with teachers and parents, returning from their annual ski camp in France.
Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said that there was uncertainty over the exact number of passengers in the bus, but it was higher than the director of the school had known about.
Part of the motorway was closed while investigators combed the scene for clues. Head of traffic police in Verona Girolamo Lacquaniti said on television that no other vehicle was involved in the crash, pointing to mechanical failure or human error as the likely cause.
"With my prayers, I am with the families and friends shocked by the tragedy," Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said in a statement.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS