Sixteen dead, mostly Hungarian teenagers, in Italy bus accident: Police

VERONA, Italy/BUDAPEST, Jan 21 (Reuters) - Sixteen people were killed and about 40 injured after a bus carrying Hungarian students burst into flames on a highway in northern Italy, police and the fire service said on Saturday.

The bus went off the road near a highway exit close to the city of Verona overnight. The local highway police chief said it was carrying mostly teenage students, teachers and parents.

"Many children among the victims of the accident in Verona, a bus catches fire on impact with a pillar," national police said on Twitter, adding they had come to Italy from France.

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Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto told a news conference that the teenagers were from a Budapest secondary school, returning from their annual ski camp in France.

He added that there was uncertainty over the exact number of passengers in the bus, but it was higher than the director of the school had known about.

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Bus crash in Italy leaves 16 dead, mostly students
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Bus crash in Italy leaves 16 dead, mostly students
A still image taken from a video shows firefighters working next to a charred bus, which was carrying Hungarian students, on a side of a highway, near Verona, northern Italy, January 21, 2017. Vigili del Fuoco/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY.
A burning bus, which was carrying Hungarian students, is seen on a side of a highway, near Verona, northern Italy, January 21, 2017. Italian Police/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT WAS PROCESSED BY REUTERS TO ENHANCE QUALITY. AN UNPROCESSED VERSION HAS BEEN PROVIDED SEPARATELY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY.
A still image taken from a video shows firefighters working next to a charred bus, which was carrying Hungarian students, on a side of a highway, near Verona, northern Italy, January 21, 2017. Vigili del Fuoco/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY.
People light candles in front of a school building in Budapest, Hungary January 21, 2017. Sixteen people were killed and about 40 injured after a bus carrying Hungarian students burst into flames on a highway in northern Italian city of Verona. REUTERS/Laszlo Balogh
People gather in front of a school building in Budapest, Hungary January 21, 2017. Sixteen people were killed and about 40 injured after a bus carrying Hungarian students burst into flames on a highway in northern Italian city of Verona. REUTERS/Laszlo Balogh
People cry in front of a school building in Budapest, Hungary January 21, 2017. Sixteen people were killed and about 40 injured after a bus carrying Hungarian students burst into flames on a highway in northern Italian city of Verona. REUTERS/Laszlo Balogh
People comfort each other in front of a school building in Budapest, Hungary January 21, 2017. Sixteen people were killed and about 40 injured after a bus carrying Hungarian students burst into flames on a highway in northern Italian city of Verona. REUTERS/Laszlo Balogh
A school building is photographed in Budapest, Hungary January 21, 2017. Sixteen people were killed and about 40 injured after a bus carrying Hungarian students burst into flames on a highway in northern Italian city of Verona. REUTERS/Laszlo Balogh
A still image taken from a video shows firefighters working next to a charred bus, which was carrying Hungarian students, on a side of a highway, near Verona, northern Italy, January 21, 2017. Vigili del Fuoco/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY.
A still image taken from a video shows firefighters working next to a charred bus, which was carrying Hungarian students, on a side of a highway, near Verona, northern Italy, January 21, 2017. Vigili del Fuoco/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY.
A still image taken from a video shows firefighters working next to a charred bus, which was carrying Hungarian students, on a side of a highway, near Verona, northern Italy, January 21, 2017. Vigili del Fuoco/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A still image taken from a video shows firefighters working next to a charred bus, which was carrying Hungarian students, on a side of a highway, near Verona, northern Italy, January 21, 2017. Vigili del Fuoco/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY.
A burning bus, which was carrying Hungarian students, is seen on a side of a highway, near Verona, northern Italy, January 21, 2017. Italian Police/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY.
A charred bus, which was carrying Hungarian students, is seen on a side of a highway, near Verona, northern Italy, January 21, 2017. Italian Police/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A charred bus, which was carrying Hungarian students, is seen on a side of a highway, near Verona, northern Italy, January 21, 2017. Italian Police/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY.
A charred bus, which was carrying Hungarian students, is seen on a side of a highway, near Verona, northern Italy, January 21, 2017. Italian Police/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY.
A charred bus, which was carrying Hungarian students, is seen on a side of a highway, near Verona, northern Italy, January 21, 2017. Italian Police/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY.
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Szijjarto said that one of the victims, whose life was at risk, was being kept in coma, and that all of the injured were in hospital.

The minister added that twelve passengers were "well" and were staying in a hotel in the southern part of Verona.

Local highway police chief Girolamo Lacquaniti told SkyTG24 television some people had minor injuries, but others were more serious.

Lacquaniti said the cause of the crash would be investigated. "We are not aware of other vehicles being involved, it seems to have gone off the road of its own accord."

Police released photographs and television footage of the burned-out hulk near a road bridge. The wreckage had been removed from the road by around 0800 GMT.

"With my prayers, I am with the families and friends shocked by the tragedy," Prime Minister Viktor Orban said in a statement sent to the national news agency MTI. (Reporting By Stefano Rellandini, Giulia Segreti and Philip Pullella and Sandor Peto in Budapest; writing by Isla Binnie; Editing by Toby Chopra)

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