ROME - At least two people were killed and more than 60 others injured on Monday (Aug 6) when a tanker truck crashed into a lorry and exploded, sending a fireball across a busy motorway in the northern Italian city of Bologna.
The blast, which occurred in the early afternoon in the Borgo Panigale area, close to Bologna airport, caused a partial collapse of the flyover, where the explosion took place, onto another road below, filling the scene with flames and black smoke.
A video released by the police shows the moment the tanker ploughed into the back of the lorry, immediately catching fire as another lorry crashed into the back of the blazing tanker, and oncoming traffic screeched to a halt.
The three vehicles, covered by the blanketing smoke, were reduced to little more than ash by a massive explosion that swept across the motorway and could be heard throughout the city.
"I was here (at a nearby restaurant) for work ... at a certain point we heard a violent blast, i thought it was a terrorist attack," Marco Rosadini, whose car is trapped under the flyover, told the daily La Repubblica.
"After the explosion the roof of the restaurant started to collapse. I looked outside and I felt like I was looking at a wall of fire."
It took firefighters nearly two hours to extinguish the fireball, which spread to vehicles parked in a nearby lot of a car dealership.
Then rescuers began the delicate task of looking through the burned out debris to find any victims.
DEATH TOLL COULD RISE
Italian media quoted the Bologna prefecture as saying that two people had been killed, but when asked for confirmation by AFP, a spokeswoman said that the official toll remained one dead, with 68 injured.
However, the Italian fire service told AFP that the number of dead is likely to rise.
Most of the injured suffered burns with police and firefighters among the most seriously hurt.
Others were injured by pieces of flying debris and glass the explosion caused in the surrounding area.
Speaking to television news channel Sky TG24, police officers said that the extremely high temperatures from the fire and the blast caused the road to collapse.
Fears of a terrorist attack still rattle Bologna which just last week marked the anniversary of a far-right attack on the train station that left 85 people dead and more than 200 wounded in 1980.
Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said more than 100 firefighters had responded to the fiery accident, and the prosecutor has opened an inquiry.
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced on Facebook that he would go to Bologna on Tuesday to show the government's solidarity with the victims and their families.