Firefighters said the bus caught fire after careering off a bridge straddling a railway line
The bus crashed into a barrier, broke through it, and plunged near railway tracks in Mestre district, Venice. Image/AFP AFP News

At least 21 people, including two children, have died and another 18 sustained injuries in a horrific bus crash in Venice, Italy, on Tuesday.

The incident occurred while the bus was on its way to a campsite near Marghera. It also had foreign tourists onboard, according to local authorities. The bus crashed into a barrier, broke through it, and plunged near railway tracks in the Mestre district. It fell more than 33 feet before crashing and bursting into flames.

"The people in the bus found themselves surrounded by flames. The scene we found was terrible. It took about an hour to extract some of the bodies," the Associated Press quoted the commander of the Venice firefighters team as saying.

The images from the scene showed rescue workers trying to overturn the crumpled bus and retrieve the injured and the dead. The injured have been transferred to different hospitals and are undergoing treatment. The driver of the bus, identified as Alberto Rizzotto, is among the dead. The authorities are still trying to identify the bodies.

There is still no clarity on what caused the crash. According to officials, the bus involved in the crash was a new electric vehicle.

"It completely went off the road, it flew off the bridge. It was a bus; it was a highway. We are in mourning," said Venice mayor Luigi Brugnaro. He described the scene as "apocalyptic" in a Facebook post.

A BBC report has claimed that the bus used methane and caught fire after falling on power lines. However, no official statement has been issued by the Italian authorities explaining the cause of the accident.

"This is an important tragedy, but it's difficult to understand how it happened. The bus was new and electric, and that street wasn't particularly problematic," the Veneto region governor, Luca Zaia, told RAI state television.

Meanwhile, Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi has said that the death toll is expected to increase. The city is officially in a state of mourning. The Italian Prime Minister took to X (formerly Twitter) to express condolences.

"I express my personal and the Government's deepest condolences for the serious accident that occurred in Mestre. Our thoughts go out to the victims and their family and friends," Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni wrote on X.

In 2013, 38 people were killed after a coach plunged more than 15 metres (49 feet) off a viaduct in southern Italy. Eleven people were pulled out alive from the stricken coach and taken to the hospital, some with serious injuries.

The coach was carrying about 50 people back to Naples after visiting Telese Terme in the southern region of Campania. Reports said that the bus smashed through a guardrail on the flyover and dropped 30 metres (98 feet), coming to rest in heavy undergrowth.

In a similar accident reported in 2017, 16 people died after the bus they were travelling in met with an accident near the northern city of Verona. The bus carrying Hungarian students crashed into a bridge on a motorway. Most of the passengers were teenage students. They were travelling home from a ski trip in France.

In 2017, seven Italians and two Germans were among 13 people killed in a bus crash in Spain.

The bus crashed near Tarragona in Catalonia as a group of 56 Erasmus exchange students made their way from Valencia after the Fallas Festival. Local officials had reported that all those killed in the crash were women aged between 19 and 25 years old.

The driver of the coach hit the railing on the right and then swerved to the left "so violently that the bus veered onto the other side of the highway". It hit a vehicle coming in the opposite direction, injuring two people inside.