At least 38 people died and more than 10 were seriously injured when a bus plunged off a viaduct on a treacherous stretch of mountainous highway in the Campania region of southern Italy on Sunday night,officials told the Italian news media.
The highway police told state radio that the bus slammed into cars that had slowed for heavy traffic about 160 miles south of Rome. The bus then fell 100 feet down a ravine. Italian television showed images of rescue workers pulling people from dozens of mangled cars that lined the highway. Many of the buss passengers were from one vacationing family.
Italian news media showed a row of corpses under white sheets in the early morning light Monday. Rescue workers moved the bus to a demolition center for investigation. The stretch of the A16 highway between the towns of Monteforte Irpino and Baiano,near Avellino,is mountainous,and the bus crashed on a curving descent.
The authorities have opened an investigation into whether the driver,who died in the crash,was at fault; whether the bus was in proper condition; whether there were adequate signs on the road signaling construction work; and whether the guardrail over which the bus plunged met safety standards,the news agency ANSA reported.
The family that had a number of members on the bus,ANSA said,had been on vacation for a few days in the town of Telese Terme in Campania.
Before returning home to the Naples area,they had planned to stop in the town of Pietrelcina,the birthplace of the Capuchin monk Padre Pio,said the director of the hotel where the guests had stayed.
Padre Pio is venerated as a saint,and he is said to have borne the bleeding wounds of the crucified Christ on his hands,feet and side for 50 years before his death in 1968. He has a cult following in southern Italy.