Rescuers in Switzerland are still trying to reach the site of a head-on truck collision Wednesday, which turned the Alps' longest highway tunnel into an inferno. Police say the death toll of 11 is expected to rise, once authorities reach the charred and crushed vehicles at the heart of the disaster. More than 100 people are reported missing.
Swiss police say now that the fire has finally been extinguished, emergency workers have a better chance of reaching the collision site inside the 17-kilometer-long tunnel.
Officials warn that the Gotthard tunnel may remain closed for months. The tunnel is a key transportation link between Italy and Germany, used by more than one million trucks and several million autos each year.
Meanwhile, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe says it has finalized its recommendations on how member states should improve tunnel safety. Spokesman Jean Michel Jakobowicz said, "Among these recommendations, there are considerations for trucks, the possibility of having a limited number of trucks in tunnels." Mr. Jakobowicz said other recommendations include lowering the quantity of fuel carried by trucks and appointing safety officers for tunnels longer than 1,000 meters.
The Gotthard tunnel previously had a good safety record. But critics say the lack of a barrier separating traffic heading in opposite directions was a major flaw.
The disaster occurred when a northbound truck veered out of control and hit a southbound truck, which caught fire.