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Six killed after car ploughs into German tourists in northern Italy

The driver, who reportedly had a high alcohol blood content, has been arrested on suspicion of manslaughter.

Emergency services of the Luttach voluntary fire brigade secure the accident site (Freiwillige Feuerwehr Luttach/AP)
Emergency services of the Luttach voluntary fire brigade secure the accident site (Freiwillige Feuerwehr Luttach/AP)

By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

Six people have been killed and 11 injured after a car ploughed into a group of young German tourists in northern Italy.

The deadly crash occurred in a village near Valle Aurina, near Bolzano in the Alto Adige region shortly after 1am as the Germans were gathering to board their bus.

The largely German-speaking autonomous region of northern Italy, with its ski resorts in the Dolomites and quaint villages around Bolzano, is popular with German tourists.

The regional president of Alto Adige, Arno Kompatscher, said: “The new year begins with a terrible tragedy. We are left stunned.”

The driver of the car had a high blood alcohol content and was driving particularly fast, a Carabineri police official in Brunico told The Associated Press.

He said police had concluded the car crash into pedestrians was not an act of terrorism.

The Lutago volunteer fire service said on Facebook that the six dead were killed at the scene.

The injured, four of whom were in critical condition, were taken to several regional hospitals, including two who were airlifted to a hospital in Innsbruck, Austria, said Bolzano Carabinieri Commander Alessandro Coassin.

Mr Coassin said the driver, identified by Italian media as a 28-year-old man from the nearby town of Chienes, was arrested on suspicion of highway manslaughter and injury and was being treated at the hospital in Brunico.

In all, 160 rescue workers and emergency medical personnel responded to the crash, the aftermath of which “looked like a battlefield,” Helmut Abfalterer of the Lutago volunteer fire service told the Tageszeitung Online portal.

Most of the victims hailed from western Germany, though two of the injured were Italian, officials said.

“We are currently working on the assumption that most of the deceased come from North Rhine-Westphalia,” the state’s governor, Armin Laschet, said on Twitter.

“These young people wanted to spend a good time together and were torn out of their lives or seriously injured from one second to the next.”

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A man lights a candle at the scene (Helmut Moling/AP)

The regional president of Alto Adige, Arno Kompatscher, told a press conference the victims were part of a group of young Germans holidaying in the region.

He expressed his condolences to their families and declined to provide further details pending notification of their deaths to their loved ones.

Later on Sunday, mourners left candles and flowers at the crash scene, which was located along a two-lane road dotted by hotels and old piles of snow.

The accident occurred on the final long weekend of the Christmas and New Year’s holiday in Italy, which will be capped by Epiphany on Monday.

PA

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