The scene of the crash was described as 'apocalyptic' after the bus is believed to have fallen several metres as ITV News Europe Editor James Mates reports
At least 21 people - including two children - have been killed after a bus toppled from an elevated street near Venice.
Another 18 have been left injured after the bus fell from an elevated street on Tuesday in Mestre, a suburb of Venice across the lagoon from its historic centre.
Local prosecutors are investigating whether the driver of the bus, who was among the deceased, fell ill at the wheel.
“The people in the bus found themselves surrounded by flames,” said Mauro Luongo, commander of the Venice firefighters team.
“The scene we found was terrible. It took about one hour to extract some of the bodies.”
The bus was carrying foreign tourists, including Ukrainians, according to a Venice official.
Veneto region's governor Luca Zaia said on Wednesday that the dynamic of the accident was difficult to understand.
”Everything makes one think of an illness,″ Zaia said. “The driver was an expert, a good person, very well referenced."
Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro wrote on X, formerly Twitter, that the scene of the crash was "apocalyptic" and that he had already declared the city in a state of mourning.
Firefighters and other emergency responders worked into the night trying to extract bodies and squelch the flames.
By Wednesday morning, traffic was slowly passing the spot where the bus burst through a guardrail and a rusted fence, close to Mestre’s railway tracks where it caught fire.
A couple of locals said that the overpass was more than 60 years old and that nothing similar had ever happened there, while a man wearing a biker jacket stopped his motorcycle to tie to a post a bouquet of plastic flowers.
Nine people were in critical condition following the accident, which happened on the mainland just 3.7 miles northwest of the old city of Venice.
The injured were transferred to five different hospitals in the region.
Italy's prime minister, Giorgia Meloni, said her thoughts are with the victims.
"I express my deepest condolences, my personal and that of the entire government, for the serious accident that occurred in Mestre," she posted on social media.
"My thoughts are with the victims and their families and friends.
"I am in close contact with the Mayor Luigi Brugnaro and with the Minister (of the interior) Matteo Piantedosi to follow the news on this tragedy."
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