Six Russians have been killed and two others were injured when their snowmobile slammed into a fence and flipped over into a ditch during a night run down an Italian ski slope.
RAI state radio reported that the crash occurred on an unlit slope late yesterday on Mount Cermis in north-east Italy.
The Russian consul general in Milan, Alexei Parmonov, said on Russian state television that he was in contact with Italian investigators, who he said suspect the crash was caused by excessive speed. They also were checking the possibility of a mechanical malfunction.
Russian news reports said the snowmobile was pulling a sled, which is where most of the passengers were sitting.
Mr Parmonov identified the four men and two women who died in the crash. Five of them and also one of the injured men were tourists from Krasnodar, a region in southern Russia that includes Sochi, which is preparing to hold the 2014 Winter Olympics.
One of the dead women and the other injured man worked in Italy in the tourist industry.
The Russian diplomat gave the names of the dead as Denis Kravchenko, Irina Kravchenko, Vyacheslav Sleptsov, Yulia Yudina, Lyudmila Yudina and Rafilya Pshenichnaya. The injured, he said, were Boris Yudin and Azat Agafarov.
Mr Yudin's 17-year-old son, who stayed behind in the hotel, lost his mother and sister in the accident, while his father was taken to hospital with multiple fractures, Mr Parmonov said.
In 1998, a US Marine jet, flying low on a training run from a nearby air base, accidentally sliced a ski gondola's cable on Mount Cermis, sending the cable car crashing to the ground and claiming 20 lives.