TRAIN CRASH IN ITALY LEAVES AT LEAST 20 DEAD AND DOZENS INJURED

Publish Date: 
Tuesday, July 12, 2016 - 9:30am

NEW YORK TIMES - GAIA PIANGIANI

Two passenger trains collided head-on in the Puglia region of southern Italy on Tuesday morning, killing at least 20 people, according to local officials, and leaving dozens injured.

The crash occurred around 11:30 a.m. on a single track running through an olive grove between the towns of Corato and Ruvo di Puglia, said the spokesman, Luca Cari of the Vigili del Fuoco, a part of the Interior Ministry that handles fire and rescue services. The closest major city is Bari, about 20 miles east of Ruvo di Puglia.

The front cars of both trains were smashed, and both trains derailed, Mr. Cari said.

Italian news agencies broadcast images of rescue officials taking wounded passengers on stretchers under the burning sun. The jarring sound of cicadas could be heard as firefighters searched for survivors among the wreckage.

The lack of access roads made it difficult for search-and-rescue teams to reach the crash site.

The news agency ANSA reported that emergency workers had extracted a young boy from the site of the crash and had taken him by helicopter to a hospital.

Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, who was attending the opening of a new science museum in Milan, said that he would return immediately to Rome.

“We won’t stop until we clarify what happened,” he told reporters there. “There is an absolute need to understand who is responsible and to shed total light” on what happened, he added.

Mr. Renzi also said that the infrastructure and transportation minister, Graziano Delrio, and the head of the civil protection agency, Fabrizio Curcio, who oversees emergency response in Italy, were traveling to the site of the crash.

It appeared to be one of the most deadly rail disasters in Italy since June 29, 2009, when a 14-car freight train carrying liquefied petroleum gas derailed and exploded in Viareggio, on the west coast of Italy in the Tuscany region. The disaster killed 32 people.