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Major Accidents Make for 'Tragic Summer' in Europe

  • Selah Hennessy

A damaged bus coach is seen after a crash near the southern town of Avellino, Italy, July 29, 2013.

A damaged bus coach is seen after a crash near the southern town of Avellino, Italy, July 29, 2013.

Dozens of people have been killed in a road accident in southern Italy after a bus plunged off a highway. The Italian accident comes only days after one of the worst train wrecks in Spain’s history killed more than 70 people.

In Italy on Monday, relatives of those killed in the bus accident gathered at a local school. Its gym has been converted into a makeshift morgue.

Nearly 40 people, including the bus's driver, were killed in the accident Sunday night, and about 10 people were injured.

Disturbing tragedy

Antonio De Stefano is mayor of Monteforte Irpino, a town near where the accident happened. He said there has been a major rescue effort. He said he saw what the doctors and firefighters had to do to free the bodies. And he saw the doctors with their jackets covered in blood and it was something very striking.

The bus appears to have been carrying a group of Italian holidaymakers who had spent the weekend at nearby hot springs. The bus lost control and plowed through several cars before veering off the highway and into a ravine. It’s not yet clear why the driver lost control.

Eyewitnesses have been giving their own account.

One man said he saw out of the corner of his eye a car rolling around, adding that there was a sudden, strong blow and he was hurled as well.

The road accident has been described as one of the worst in Italy’s history and follows the deadly train accident in Spain last Wednesday.

On Sunday evening the train driver, who survived the crash, was charged with reckless homicide and released on bail. He is suspected of speeding through a tight high-risk curve. The train, which was carrying more than 200 passengers, tumbled off the tracks and into a concrete wall.

Funeral Mass

Seventy-nine people were killed, including nine foreigners, and dozens more were hospitalized.

Spain’s royal family and the country’s prime minister were to join a large funeral Mass on Monday in Santiago de Compostela, the Catholic pilgrimage site where the crash took place.

On Monday, people in the town said they were happy the driver had been charged.

Manuel Maya, a tourist from Barcelona, said, "I think the decision is correct. I read in the newspapers today that the train driver declared he thought he was on another stretch of the track. A professional like this man, with the hours he has working as a train driver, I don't think he could make such a mistake."

Earlier this month six people were killed in a French train accident, when a train derailed just outside of Paris.

On Monday, the European Union's transport commissioner, Siim Kallas, said that so far it has been a “tragic summer" in Europe.

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