ROME — At least 37 passengers died when a bus hit several cars and plunged 50 feet off a viaduct on the A16 highway in the Campania region of Italy, local authorities said. The stretch of road between the towns of Monteforte Irpino and Baiano, near Avellino, is mountainous.
The highway police told state radio that the bus slammed into the cars, which had slowed for heavy traffic, before plunging off the road and falling dozens of feet down the ravine, about 160 miles south of Rome.
Reports said that the bus had been traveling from Telese Terme in Campania back to the town of Giugliano, outside Naples. Firefighters said at least 11 people were injured, some seriously, and taken to the hospital. Witnesses said there were as many as 30 bodies covered in white sheets.
Italian media reports also said that there may be many children among the dead. Television reports showed rescue workers pulling people out of mangled cars as well as images of the guardrail over which the bus plunged. The A16 highway is particularly treacherous, as it uses a series of viaducts to traverse mountainous terrain.
Italian TV quoted people at the scene as saying about 50 people were on the bus, which was filled with Italian pilgrims returning from an excursion elsewhere in the south.