Three Dead, 60+ Injured After Tanker Truck Explosion Collapses Elevated Highway in Italy
The truck was reportedly carrying liquefied petroleum gas.
A nightmarish scene unfolded on a raised highway in the Italian city of Bologna on Monday after a tanker truck carrying liquefied petroleum gas exploded in a massive fireball following a traffic accident, killing at least three people, injuring more than 60, and causing a section of the elevated structure to collapse, according to multiple reports.
Local authorities say the tanker was driving on an 8-lane elevated span of Autostrada 14—Italy's second-longest highway, running the length of the Adriatic coast—when it rear-ended another large truck that was stopped in traffic. The crash sparked a fire, eventually causing the highly-pressurized tank to explode as first responders arrived to clear the scene. The blast was captured on a highway traffic camera. Here's a link with fair warning: even though you can't see it, this is a video during which CNN reports at least three people lost their lives.
At least one witness also filmed the colossal blast from their car, showing dark plumes of black smoke suddenly give way to wall of fire so big it fills the entire frame. After a few seconds it lifts into a mushroom cloud, with the tanker still spewing flames like a giant torch. The clip ends with the camera holder wisely backing away.
The explosion sent a sizable chunk of the roadway surrounding the tank down onto a parking lot below the bridge, crushing numerous cars and causing at least ten others to explode as well. It reportedly took several hours for firefighters to extinguish the inferno; while some of the injured have severe burns, others were hit by flying glass when the initial shockwave broke nearby windows, according to Associated Press. The identities of the victims haven't been released.
The crater left by the blast bears an uncanny resemblance to that of a dropped bomb; though the surrounding structure held up, Italian authorities will begin the process of determining whether the bridge has been seriously compromised when the rescue operation is complete.