AP – A fiery chain collision on a highway near Rome killed at leastsix people, injured about 40 and left the road littered with charred and guttedcars and trucks, fire officials said.
About 20 vehicles, including a truck transporting cows, were involved in theaccident, which appeared to have been triggered or at least aggravated bymotorists’ braking for smoke drifting across the highway from piles of burninghay near the road.
“Because of the smoke, cars started abruptly slowing down, triggeringthe chain crash” near the Fiano Romano turnoff of the autostrada, saidAngelo Pacicco, a fire department official.
However, the Fire Department’s commander, Domenico Riccio, said it waspossible the smoke was only one factor, and that speeding by some motoristscontributed to the chain collision. Early reports said the truck carrying theanimals might have overturned, with motorists unable to avoid the vehiclebecause of the poor visibility.
“Some people ended up trapped in their cars, and when we reached themthey were already charred,” Riccio said of the dead.
Many of the injured also suffered burns, including one person in extremelycritical condition, authorities said. Helicopters ferried some of the injured tohospitals.
Several survivors sat, bent over in shock, along the guardrails, or wandered,dazed, beside the blackened cars.
One car’s front end was smashed under the bed of a truck. Many vehiclescrashed through guardrails when knocked out of their lanes by the chain crash.
Firefighters had been in the area trying to put out the hay fires when thecrash occurred, the Italian news agency ANSA said.
It was a heavy traffic day, with an estimated nine million Italians headingfor vacations or day trips or returning home. After the accident, traffic wasbacked up for kilometres for several hours.