The following article, Electric Bus Carrying Tourists Crashes and Catches Fire Killing 21, was first published on .
By Aubrey Wursten,
An electric shuttle bus plunged off an overpass and burst into flames in Venice, Italy, on Tuesday, killing 21 people on board.
Of the dead, all but one were foreign tourists visiting Italy. The bus driver, 40-year-old Alberto Rizzotto, was the one Italian resident killed, according to the Associated Press. Also killed were nine Ukrainians, four Romanians, three Germans, two Portuguese, one Croat, and one South African.
Nine others were taken to intensive care to receive trauma treatment for burns and fractures.
According to experts, the size of the fire and difficulty of the rescue operations were the result of the bus being electric.
Venice is currently in the process of switching all its city vehicles to electric models, and Mayor Luigi Brugnaro said that this accident will not result in any changes to those plans.
Un’immane tragedia ha colpito questa sera la nostra comunità.
Ho disposto da subito il lutto cittadino, in memoria delle numerose vittime che erano nell’autobus caduto.
Una scena apocalittica, non ci sono parole. pic.twitter.com/APnsQoPMkL
— Luigi Brugnaro (@LuigiBrugnaro) October 3, 2023
He did note that investigators may need to determine what role the battery played in the fire.
China-based Yutong Group Co., the manufacturer of the bus, said on its website that the batteries are not a threat to passengers during a fire.
“Fully spatial and thermal isolation between battery cabin and passenger compartment poses no threat to passengers, even if the batteries catch fire,” the website said.
Brugnaro said that the accident leading to the fire had “nothing to do with the fact that [the bus] is electric.”
Massimo Fiorese, the head of the bus company, said he believed Rizzotto may have suddenly become sick, Reuters reported.
“I think the driver had an illness because otherwise I can’t explain it,” he said.
He said Rizzotto had just begun his shift two hours before the incident.
The bus was only a year old, and Rizzoto had a perfect safety record as a driver, according to the AP.
Rizzoto was driving his passengers from Piazzale Roma, at the edge of the Venetian canals, over a bridge to a campground on the mainland. The tourists were reportedly staying at Hu Venezia Camping, which is just a 15-minute drive away from the pick-up point.
Brugnaro described the scene as “apocalyptic” in a Twitter post.
The bus fell more than 30 feet off an overpass to the ground below after plowing through a guardrail and fence.
“It took a scary flight,” said Gianni Amadeo, an 80-year-old local, as he looked at the scene of the accident.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.
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