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Italy investigators probe 100-foot ravine bus crash that killed 38

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Investigators were on Monday trying to work out why a bus careered out of control into slow-moving traffic then plunged nearly 100 feet down a steep ravine in southern Italy, killing 38 people and injuring 16.

The uncle of a survivor reportedly said that she thought a tire had blown and that the driver had tried desperately to stay in control of the vehicle.

A tour bus lies in a ravine near the southern Italian town of Avellino after a crash that killed dozens of people. Some people on the bus survived and were being treated in hospitals. Ciro De Luca / Reuters

Tests were being carried out on the driver, who was among the dead, to establish whether he had had a medical problem or drank alcohol, a medical official said.

Ten of the injured were on the bus; the other six were hurt when the bus hit their vehicles before falling into the ravine off the A116 autostrada near Avellino, outside of Naples, late Sunday.

One vehicle was reportedly completely destroyed by the bus, while another was smashed on its side.

Vicenzo Rusciano, whose niece Anna was a passenger on the bus, told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera that she thought the left rear tire had blown.

“The driver tried to keep control in all ways but did not succeed and the bus swerved ending up down the escarpment,” Rusciano said she had told him.

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

Giuseppe Rosato, an executive at the San Guiseppe Moscati Hospital in Avellino, told Sky Italy that an autopsy would be carried out on the driver’s body soon.

The wreckage of a bus is lifted by a crane early Monday. Gregorio Borgia / AP

“The autopsy will tell us whether the driver had a stroke or drank alcohol," he told the station.

The passengers, from the Campania region, had been on a three-day weekend pilgrimage to the Padre Pio shrine in San Giovanni Rotondo, la Repubblica newspaper reported.

It is a significant spot for Catholics who admire a monk who was from there.

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

The remains of those who died were taken to a nearby school, where the gym was turned into a funeral parlor.

Mario Terracciano said he had lost his mother Barbara, her father Mario and other relatives in the crash, Corriere Della Sera reported.

“A week ago they were in Calabria, they were simple people who just wanted a few hours of serenity,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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