Dozens killed after bus plunges down Italian slope

The crash site after where at least 36 died. Cesare Abbate / EPA

At least 36 people are dead and 11 injured after a tour bus plunged nearly 100 feet down a steep slope in southern Italy on Sunday, local police told NBC News.

The bus reportedly lost control and hit several cars that had been slowed because of traffic before coming to a stop, according to local media. 

Signs warned drivers of slow moving traffic near Avellino, outside of Naples, along the A116 autostrada. But officials say that for reasons unknown the bus lost control, the Italian news agency ANSA said.

The injured include three children, two men and six women, all of whom were transported to a local hospital in critical condition.

The driver is believed to be among the dead, ANSA reported.

About 40 passengers were on board the bus, including children, the news agency said.

"The situation is dramatic," he said, adding that several other vehicles had also been involved in the accident. 

The bus looked as if it had been partially split open, the Associated Press reported.

Rescuers line up the bodies of victims of a bus crash on July 28, 2013 on the road between Monteforte Irpino and Baiano, southern Italy. At least thirty people died and dozens were injured in southern Italy on Sunday when a coach came off a flyover and plunged 30 metres (98 feet) down a slope, according to Italian media. Agenzia Controluce / AFP - Getty Images

The rear of one car that was struck by the bus was completely destroyed, and another was smashed on its side. The extent of injuries for those in the cars was unknown.

Passengers aboard the bus were believed to be mostly people returning from a pilgrimage to the southeastern Puglia area, a significant spot for Catholics who admire a monk who was from there.

Many of those on board were from the Campania area around Naples, according to ANSA.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.