Images of horror from the dream city: In Venice, in the mainland district of Mestre, a bus broke through the parapet of an elevated road and fell about ten meters from a bridge. The gas-powered bus with around 40 people on board crashed onto tracks and caught fire immediately after impact. According to the president of the Veneto region, Luca Zaia, at least 21 people died – including minors.

According to the Italian authorities, at least one German victim was among the fatalities. There was initially no confirmation of this from the German side. The Foreign Office in Berlin simply said: “Our embassy in Rome is involved and is in contact with the Italian authorities to clarify to what extent German nationals are affected.”

According to the responsible prefecture, at least five Ukrainian nationals are among the fatalities. The driver, a 40-year-old Italian, was also killed, said Prefect Michele di Bari late in the evening. At least 20 passengers on the bus were injured, 5 of them seriously.

Public prosecutor launches investigation

The Venice public prosecutor’s office has officially opened an investigation. This is intended to clarify why the bus fell from the bridge. Several Italian media outlets speculated that the driver may have lost control of the bus due to sudden nausea.

The bus broke through the parapet of an elevated road around 7:45 p.m. and fell ten meters into the depths. There he fell onto a railway line and immediately caught fire. According to initial information, the vehicle was the shuttle bus from a campsite in the mainland district of Marghera, which was on the way back from Venice.

Many holidaymakers in Venice spend the day in the old town and then return to the mainland in the evening. The overnight prices are significantly lower there. Statements of solidarity came from many countries that evening. Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock wrote in English on X (formerly: Twitter): “My thoughts are with the victims, their families and friends.”

The exact circumstances of the accident remain unclear

According to their own information, the fire department completed the examination of the interior of the vehicle that evening. However, the emergency services are still busy checking whether there are still people under the wreckage of the bus, it was said. Shortly after the accident, many emergency services and several ambulances were at the scene of the accident. The railway line between Mestre on the mainland and the famous lagoon city of Venice was interrupted.

The exact circumstances of the accident are still unclear. The path of the bus is being checked and any clues could provide skid marks or the condition of the road surface, according to police officers on site investigating the matter.

“We were supposed to take the next bus, but it didn’t come, and then we heard it,” young German tourists who were also at the campsite in Marghera told reporters. “It’s a tragedy.”

Mayor speaks of “apocalyptic scene”

Italy’s Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni was dismayed. “My thoughts are with the victims, their families and friends. I am in close contact with Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro and Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi to follow the news of this tragedy,” Meloni said, according to a statement.

The mayor of Venice, Luigi Brugnaro, spoke of a “terrible tragedy” that struck his city in the evening. “An apocalyptic scene, there are no words,” said Brugnaro in a post on the online platform X (formerly Twitter).

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen expressed her deepest condolences to the families of the victims and injured. She wrote on “I am deeply saddened by the terrible bus accident that occurred in Mestre this evening,” Michel told X.