Eight bodies have been recovered from the wreckage of a train that crashed into a building in northeastern Sicily. More than 40 people were injured in the disaster.

Sicilian authorities say the Palermo-to-Venice passenger train jumped the tracks at around seven in the evening, but what caused the crash is still under investigation.

The theories being considered by investigators are excess speed, a problem with the train's brakes and a possibility that it hit an obstacle on the railway line. Three inquiries have been launched into the disaster.

Authorities said the train had been checked a few days ago and was believed to be functioning properly. Sicilian politicians, many of whom were at the scene shortly after the accident, blamed it on the old railroad network in Italy and a history of neglect by various governments.

About 190 passengers were on board the train that had left the Sicilian capital, Palermo, at four in the afternoon. As it neared the Rometta Marea station, about 20 miles from Messina, the train crashed into a building, which was empty because the owners had gone for a walk.

Five of the seven train carriages were involved in the collision. People were heard screaming as they searched the wreckage for their loved ones. Some passengers climbed out of windows and tried to help the injured.

The area where the crash occurred is far from major roads, and its location slightly delayed the rescue effort. But firefighters and ambulances were rushed to the scene, as were hundreds of rescuers and volunteer workers.

Rescuers managed to recover the bodies, including that of one of the train engineers. Dozens of other victims were treated at a nearby hospital in Messina.