SIX people died and 11 others were injured when a suspected drunk driver ploughed into a group of young German tourists in northern Italy.
The crash happened around 1am yesterday as the group gathered to board their bus in the mountain village of Lutago in the Alto Adige region. The victims, all aged 20 to 25, were on holiday there.
The largely German-speaking autonomous region, with its ski resorts in the Dolomites and quaint villages, is popular with tourists from Germany.
The regional president of Alto Adige, Arno Kompatscher, said: ‘The new year begins with a terrible tragedy. We are left stunned.’
The driver of the car had a high blood alcohol content and was driving particularly fast, a police official said.
A 28-year-old man from the village of Chienes was arrested on suspicion of highway manslaughter and injury and was being treated in hospital. The Lutago volunteer fire service said the six fatally injured died at the scene.
The injured, four of whom were in a critical condition, were taken to several regional hospitals. Two were airlifted to Innsbruck, Austria.
Some 160 rescue workers and emergency medical personnel responded to the crash, the aftermath of which ‘looked like a battlefield’, said Helmut Abfalterer of the Lutago volunteer fire service.
Most of the victims hailed from western Germany, though two of the injured were Italian.
‘We are currently working on the assumption that most of the deceased come from North Rhine-Westphalia,’ tweeted state governor Armin Laschet.
‘These young people wanted to spend a good time together and were torn out of their lives or seriously injured from one second to the next.’