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Italy crash investigators focus on phone alert system

A rescuer works at the site where two passenger trains collided near Bari, Italy. Credit: Reuters

Authorities investigating the train crash in Italy that has killed at least 25 people are focusing on an antiquated phone alert system.

Union leaders and railway police blamed the crash on human error, saying the alert system in place on the stretch of track involved in the accident relied on station masters phoning one another to advise of a departing train.

Other systems used in Italy are automatic, and engage if two trains are close by on the same track.

"Surely one of the two trains shouldn't have been there," railway police commander Giancarlo Conticchio said. "And surely there was an error. We need to determine the cause of the error."

Italian Red Cross workers were shuttling family members to the morgue in Puglia's regional capital Bari on Wednesday to help identify the dead.

The trains involved in the crash were operated by private Bari-based rail company Ferrotramviaria.

PM demands full and swift investigation into train crash

The wreckage was being cleared from the tracks on Wednesday morning. Credit: Reuters

Italy Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has promised a full and swift investigation into the train crash that killed at least 25 people on Tuesday.

He said: "Tears and grief for the victims and their families, but also a lot of anger. We demand clarity over what happened in Puglia.

"We will remain at the side of the people of Puglia in this moment of great pain and desperation", he added later in the evening.

Mr Renzi said Transport Minister Graziano Delrio would report to parliament on Wednesday.

Death toll in Italy train crash raised to 25

The crash happened shortly before midday on Tuesday. Credit: Reuters

The death toll in Tuesday morning's head-on train crash in Italy has been raised from 20 to 25.

Three carriages were torn apart when the two trains crashed into each other on a line with a single track.

The accident happened on a stretch of track linking the small towns of Corato and Andria in the southeastern Puglia region.

Rescue workers said the death toll could climb higher as some of the 50 injured are in a serious condition.

The Italian government has promised a full and swift investigation.


Woman eight months pregnant in fatal Italy train crash

A woman who is eight months pregnant was on board a train in Italy when it crashed head-on into another, killing 20.

The woman said she was "thrown forward" during the collision, before she saw her mother on the ground and her father and sister bleeding.

The crash happened at midday on Tuesday in an olive grove on flat terrain between the towns of Andria and Corato, about 200 km east of Naples, on a line with a single track.

The cause is not yet known.

Train crash wreck 'as if an airplane fell from the sky'

The mayor of Corato in Italy's southern Puglia region where the train crashed said the scene is horrific but that rescue work is ongoing.

Mayor Massimo Mazzilli said rescue workers had just pulled out a passenger alive and were poised to extract a second one.

On his Facebook page, Mazzilli posted photos of the mangled steel trains that collided Tuesday.

He wrote: "It's as disaster, as if an airplane fell. Rescue workers and civil protection is on the scene, but unfortunately there are victims!"

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Death toll rises to 20 from Italian train crash

The death toll from the Italian train crash has risen to 20, an official told Reuters.

Dozens of people have been taken to hospital, some with serious injuries, he added.

The head-on collision between two trains happened on a single stretch of track in countryside between the towns of Corato and Andria, in the southern heel of Italy.

Dozens of people were injured in the crash Credit: Reuters
The wreckage of the train Credit: Reuters
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