Italy Crash: Doctors' Life And Death Decisions

Italy Crash: Doctors' Life And Death Decisions

Doctors at a deadly bus crash in Italy say they had to make life and death decisions about who to free first from the wreckage.

"People were crying out amid the corpses," Maurizio Abbenante, who was among the first on the scene, told La Repubblica .

"We had to manage the situation, and decide which people had a chance of surviving, so we could free them first from the wreckage.

"We had to decide which of the passengers looked like they would definitely survive."

At least 38 people were killed when the coach smashed into several cars, ploughed through safety barriers and plunged 100ft off a motorway flyover before splitting in two near Avellino.

The bodies of those who died were covered in white sheets or placed in wooden coffins at the roadside.

They were later taken to the gymnasium of a nearby school, where relatives and friends came to identify their loved ones.

Prosecutors have launched an investigation into possible manslaughter over the crash, which Italian president Giorgio Napolitano described as "an unacceptable tragedy".

Prime minister Enrico Letta declared a national day of mourning on Tuesday, saying the country had been "profoundly moved".

Witnesses told Italian media the coach was travelling at "normal speed" before suddenly veering off course.

Some described hearing a noise as if the vehicle had blown a tyre, although parts of the vehicle's engine were found around 1km (0.6 miles) back down the road.

The braking system will also be examined, as there were no signs of heavy braking.

Despite the severity of the crash, emergency services said 10 passengers had a "miraculous escape" and managed to walk away after being cut free.

"They're saying, 'we can't explain it'," journalist Tom Kington, at the scene, said.

"People just got up and walked out of the wreckage, including, miraculously, a whole family of four."

Enrico de Campora, medical director at Santobono Pausilipon hospital in Naples, said doctors were treating five children who were admitted without their parents.

Several of the youngsters are in a serious condition and two are in a coma.

Highway officials said the coach had been warned about heavy traffic on the A116 motorway near Avellino, about 30 miles east of Naples.

Flashing signs near the flyover were also in place to warn vehicles to slow down.

As well as those killed and injured in the coach, about a dozen people travelling in cars on the flyover also received minor injuries, reported Italian media.

The A116 highway links western and eastern Italy and the passengers had been returning from a weekend trip visiting a religious site in nearby Benevento province, as well a thermal bath.

Most of the passengers were from the area around Naples.

"They were working class Italians," said Kington. "They club together and take trips like they were taking this weekend."

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