Bologna - One person died and 145 were injured, including four with serious but not life-threatening injuries, from the explosion that unleashed hell on a Bologna motorway junction at Borgo Panigale.
In the meantime, less than 24 hours after the accident, the section of connecting road A1-A14 affected by the fire was reopened to traffic. Only about twenty of those injured are still in hospital, the most serious of whom are patients admitted to the major burns centres in Parma and Cesena.
On Tuesday morning the Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte, stopped at the Bufalini hospital in Cesena to visit the heroic 31-year-old policeman Riccardo Muci, who was one of the first to intervene under the motorway bridge to save the lives of motorists by driving them away.
“We’re not Rambo, my first thought was just to save lives,” said the officer from Salento, who received second-degree burns. The Prime Minister then continued to Bologna where he visited two of the most seriously injured. “With respect to the dynamics that have been projected compared to what was achieved, what the consequences might have been, we should feel lucky,” said Conte. “It was a terrible accident, but those injured are all on the mend. I want to thank the emergency response system, which was fantastic. I am here to be close to the people and family members who have been affected.”
For Conte, “what we must always do is monitor safety standards: it applies to road and rail transport, at all levels”, perhaps extending some of the rules laid down for exceptional transport to include flammable materials. The Bologna Public Prosecutor’s Office has opened a man-made disaster investigation involving unknown persons in order to ascertain the dynamics of the accident, the outlines of which are becoming clearer. It is believed that Andrea Anzolin, the 42-year-old professional driver from Vicenza who was at the wheel of the LPG tanker truck briefly dozed off causing the serious accident and the single death.
Despite the rear signal lights, Anzolin seems not to have braked, and crashed into a stationary LGV carrying drums of solvent, which in turn fell onto a car transporter, triggering the terrible domino effect.
The explosion caused a section of the A14 elevated section to collapse, creating an enormous hole in the overpass. It is estimated that it will take five months to rebuild it, but the government aims to reduce the time by buying ready-made beams.
To avoid other accidents like the one in Bologna, we need to “lighten road freight traffic” and “equip trucks with the technology” to minimize the risk of human error, noted the Minister of Transport, Danilo Toninelli, in the Senate, announcing that he wants to “encourage the installation of assisted driving protections on vehicles carrying dangerous goods” such as anti-collision devices, automatic braking, predictive speed control, so as to prevent them from “turning into travelling bombs at any moment.”
The president of the Italian Eucharistic Conference, Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti, asked himself if it was “prudent” for “certain tankers that are, in effect, bombs, as has been demonstrated, to drive freely in the midst of all this traffic”. The President of the Republic, Sergio Mattarella, in a phone call to the Mayor of Bologna, Virginio Merola, expressed his solidarity and allegiance to the city and expressed his condolences for the victim and wishes of a speedy recovery for the wounded.