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Two Italian commuter trains collided head-on Tuesday in the southern region of Puglia, killing at least 20 people and injuring scores more, officials said.

At least 20 dead in head-on train crash in Italy

Two Italian commuter trains collided head-on Tuesday in the southern region of Puglia, killing at least 20 people and injuring scores more, officials said. At least two passengers were pulled alive from the crumpled wreckage as the rescue operation took place in the scorching heat.

Giuseppe Corrado, vice president of the province of Andria, told Italian news channel Sky TG24 the death toll stood at 20 and that rescue operations were continuing. Another official stressed the final toll would not be known until the wreckage had been pulled apart.

The two trains, each with four cars, collided head-on at midday in an olive grove on flat terrain between the towns of Andria and Corato on a line with just a single track. The accident occurred around 11:30 a.m. some 50 kilometers (30 miles) northeast of the Puglia regional capital, Bari.

A still photo of the crash showed cars crumpled together like an accordion and forced off the tracks at sharp angles. News reports said rescue workers pulled a small child alive from the rubble. Video images showed ambulances responding to the scene with other rescue workers.

A field hospital was set up in the nearby fields to treat the numerous injured, who were also being transported to hospitals.

“Some of the cars are completely crumpled and the rescuers are extracting people from the metal, many of them injured,” Zingaro told ANSA at the scene.

Italy’s prime minister, Matteo Renzi, said the train crash “is a moment of tears” and pledged not to stop investigating until a cause was determined.

The trains were operated by a private rail company, Ferrotramviaria, that connects the city of Bari with towns to the north and the airport. Ferrotramviaria’s website said its fleet comprises 21 electric trains, most with four cars each. The line serves mostly students and commuters.

In a phone interview with state TV, Ferrotramviaria director general Massimo Nitti said the dynamics of what went wrong are still to be determined, but it is clear “one of the trains wasn’t supposed to be there” at the same time as the other.

 

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