updated 1/8/2005 7:49:15 PM ET 2005-01-09T00:49:15

Rescue workers on Saturday pried apart the mangled remains of two trains that collided head-on in northern Italy, finding four more bodies one day after the crash, firefighters said, raising the death toll to 17.

The force of the crash, which occurred Friday in heavy fog on the Bologna-Verona line, left one carriage standing on end nearly perpendicular with the tracks.

Officials believe the driver of the passenger train did not stop at a red light, leading to the crash with a freight train in Bolognina di Crevalcore, north of Bologna, prosecutor Enrico Cieri said.

“But it is much too early to speak about human error,” he said, quoted by the ANSA news agency. One possibility was that the driver was unable to see the warning light through the mist. Officials also were carrying out drug and alcohol tests on the remains of drivers who were killed, the report said.

Rescue officials searching the twisted metal wreck discovered four more bodies on Saturday, the fire department in Rome said. Workers were forced to cut apart crushed train cars to search inside.

Dozens of people were injured, most of them lightly. Five people were still hospitalized, medical officials said.

Two transport unions were demanding a tougher safety program, better investment and backup technology, saying that it would be too simple to blame the crash on train conductors.

“There must be a reflection on security, especially in regard to local rail transport,” said Celestino Pedrazzini, vice president of the Senate’s transport committee, quoted by ANSA.

At the time of the crash, around 100 people were on board the passenger train, which was traveling south from Verona to Bologna. The freighter, which carried long metal rods, was headed north from Rome to San Zeno Falzano.

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