BARI, Italy (AFP) – At least 22 people were killed on Tuesday in a head-on collision between two passenger trains in the southern Italian region of Puglia, in one of the country’s worst rail accidents in recent years.
Emergency services raced to extract people from the wreckage of smashed carriages thrown across a single track into olive groves near the town of Andria, in what one witness described as an “apocalyptic scene.” Coffins were taken to the site near the city of Bari to carry away the first of the dead as 200 rescue workers sifted through the wreckage in temperatures reaching 40 degrees Celsius.
Giancarlo Conticchio, head of the railway police for the region, said 22 people had died, and 43 were injured, four of them critically. “We will be working through the night to search the wreckage for survivors or other victims,” he said. Italian media put the death toll at 23, saying among the dead were a mother and child, found locked in an embrace. The high-speed collision happened on a slight bend in the track in open countryside and flung the front carriages of both trains into olive groves bordering the line, slinging bits of metal from the wreckage.