Rescuers prepare the coffins of victims of a bus crash on Sunday, July 28, 2013, on the road between Monteforte Irpino and Baiano in southern Italy. (Stringer/AFP/Getty Images)

Italian Tour Bus Plunges Into Ravine, Kills 38

More than half of the bus’s passengers, returning from a weekend excursion, were killed in the crash.

Rescuers prepare the coffins of victims of a bus crash on Sunday, July 28, 2013, on the road between Monteforte Irpino and Baiano in southern Italy. (Stringer/AFP/Getty Images)

Rescuers prepare the coffins of victims of a bus crash on Sunday, July 28, 2013, on the road between Monteforte Irpino and Baiano in southern Italy.

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An Italian tour bus carrying a group of people returning from a weekend pilgrimage smashed several cars before it fell nearly 100 feet into a ravine near Naples Sunday night, killing at least 38 people and injuring 10 others.

[READ: Rescuers Say 37 Dead in Italy Bus Plunge]

The bus was carrying 50 people, some of them children, back to Naples after they spent the weekend in the hometown of the Italian Saint Padre Pio. The bus driver, who was among those killed, lost control around the town of Avellino, about 37 miles west of Naples.

Italian President Giorgio Napolitano said he was "deeply saddened" by the bus crash, according to Italian news outlet ANSA.

 

"This tragedy reminds us of the need for a more decisive commitment to road-safety initiatives to reduce risk factors," Napolitano said. "Maintenance and driver checks must be scrupulous ... to protect ourselves, our loved ones and others."

While it is still unclear why the driver lost control of the bus, local media reported that authorities may be launching an investigation into possible manslaughter, Agence France-Presse reported.

[ALSO: Spanish Train Derails, Kills 78]

The investigation would examine the driver's role in the accident and check the driver's body to see if alcohol or drugs were present at the time of the crash. Officials would also look into the state of the bus and the crash barrier on the highway that the bus plowed through, AFP reported.

Italian transportation authorities said the bus passed its annual inspection in March and there was no evidence of technical problems.

Alessio Barbarulo, the head of the local fire brigade, told BBC News that barriers on bridges would normally prevent such accidents but "evidently it seems the impact was so strong that even the barrier gave way."

Police investigating the crash also said that there were no skid marks that would indicate that the driver had attempted to brake, ANSA reported. The bus hit six cars before it slid into the barrier and plunged over the edge.

Some survivors have said that it appeared the bus was traveling too fast, while others said it felt like a tire had been punctured, causing the driver to lose control of the vehicle, according to BBC.

Emergency rescue crews worked through the night on Sunday to pull survivors and victims from the remains of the bus, ANSA reported.

"It is a very sad day for Italy, what happened last night. There are no words for it," said Prime Minister Enrico Letta, according to Vatican Radio. "It is a huge tragedy."

The accident comes less than a week after a train in Spain derailed and killed 78 people. Authorities in Spain have also speculated that the train may have been traveling well over the speed limit.

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