Update: The death toll has now risen to more than 20.
A train crash involving two trains in Italy has left more than 11 people dead, BBC News reports. Preliminary reports say that the accident occurred after two trains collided head on. Both the trains were traveling in opposite directions on a single-track. The incident happened near the coastal towns of Bari and Barletta at around 11:30 a.m., local time.
The cause of the accident is currently unknown and an investigation has already been ordered. However, the priority right now is to rescue trapped passengers and get the injured to nearby hospitals. The initial death toll following the accident was put at 10 — which increased to 11 a few minutes later and at the time of publishing this article, to 12. There are chances that the number of the dead may rise even further. A fire brigade commander who is involved in the rescue operations confirmed that there are many dead. He added that among the rescued was a child who was airlifted to a hospital for treatment.
— Julián Miglierini (@julianmig) July 12, 2016
— Daily Mail Online (@MailOnline) July 12, 2016
A field hospital was also set up by rescuers near the site for people requiring emergency treatment.
Italian authorities in the meantime, have confirmed that one train was on its way from the town of Andria, while the other was coming from Corato. Both the trains had four coaches each and were traveling at high speeds when the accident occurred. The impact of the collision was tremendous, with aerial footage from the site of the crash showing wreckage spread over a large area. Several carriages were completely destroyed. According to Massimo Mazzilli, the mayor of Corato, “the damage was so extensive it was as if a plane had crashed.”
At least ten people have been killed in a head-on collision between two trains in Southern Italy https://t.co/T5rYm8WgZa
— Sky News (@SkyNews) July 12, 2016
— Paco Anselmi (@PacoHansel84) July 12, 2016
My heart goes to the victims’ families their loss
Official: 20 dead in head-on train crash in southern Italy https://t.co/hljJwSKg5h
— AQ Mufti (@aqmufti) July 12, 2016
An elderly woman, who was inside the train described the horrific scenes in detail. The unidentified woman said she was able to rescue her husband and that she saw people cut to pieces.
“I dug through the wreckage and managed to save my husband. But I saw people cut to pieces,”
Another man told that there were “hellish scenes” all around.
“When I got up, I saw hellish scenes around me.”
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister of Italy, Matteo Renzi who was in Milan cut short his trip and returned to Rome after hearing about the accident. A statement issued by his office read;
“I want to express my condolences to the families and I have ordered, with no holding-back, [an inquiry] to find who is responsible. I think we must have absolute clarity on this. We will not stop until we understand what happened.”
The site was soon visited by Italian transport minister Graziano Delri who said a proper investigation would be launched into the incident.
The stretch of track where the accident happened is owned and operated by a private rail company named Ferrotramviaria. The single-track route was supposed to be upgraded to a dual-track system a long time ago. However, the work on the same had been delayed for quite some time.
(Image: Italian Firefighter Press Office via AP)