Emergency services at the site of a bus accident on the A14 southbound motorway in Forli, Italy, 13 March 2022. The bus was carrying 22 Ukrainians and overturned for reasons still unknown, killing one person aboard | Photo: EPA/ITALIAN POLICE
Emergency services at the site of a bus accident on the A14 southbound motorway in Forli, Italy, 13 March 2022. The bus was carrying 22 Ukrainians and overturned for reasons still unknown, killing one person aboard | Photo: EPA/ITALIAN POLICE

A 32-year-old Ukrainian mother of two who fled war in her country died when the bus she was traveling on with dozens of other Ukrainian refugees overturned near Cesena, on Italy's east coast.

The journey of a group of Ukrainians fleeing war in their country ended in tragedy when their bus bound for Pescara, in east-central Italy, overturned on Sunday morning on the A14 motorway near Cesena.

A 32-year-old mother who was traveling with them died in the accident. The other 21 passengers aboard the bus survived the crash, including the victim's two small children.The accident occurred around 6.30 a.m. at kilometer 101 between the Cesena Sud and Valle Rubicone motorway exits.

The bus had a Ukrainian license plate and had left the city of Khmelnytskyi in western Ukraine, initially carrying 54 people, about half of whom got off the bus at previous stops. These are war refugees who, like so many, decided to leave their country in a hurry to join relatives scattered throughout Europe.

The bus entered Italy at the Trieste border crossing, and its final destination was to be Pescara, after a series of stops. At a certain point, for reasons still unknown, the driver lost control of the bus. It went off the road, over a ditch, and overturned in the Cesenate countryside. There were 22 people on board at that time.

Trapped in the wreckage

The impact killed the young woman, who was trapped under the wreckage of the overturned bus. Like so many of her compatriots, she was fleeing the Russian army raids with her children to join family members abroad.

Most of the passengers were able to get out of the overturned bus before help arrived, and many were picked up at the crash site by their acquaintances. The others were taken to the local traffic police department for identification, and were given refreshments of croissants and hot drinks, after having waited in below-zero temperatures following the crash.

These passengers were then also picked up by friends and acquaintances living in Italy. Over 30 people were involved in rescue operations at the site of the crash, including firefighters with two mobile cranes; traffic police; mechanics; health workers; and two teams from the management offices of the highway company Autostrade per l'Italia (Italian motorways), who assisted bus passengers by providing water, food and comfort items while they waited for a replacement bus.

Five people were injured and received medical care at the nearby hospital in Cesena, but none were seriously injured.

Children now orphans

The victim's two children were also taken to the hospital and were then joined by their aunt, great-aunt and paternal grandmother. Having lost their mother, the two minors were assigned to relatives.

This is a tragedy within a tragedy, and there isn't yet any explanation, given that the bus didn't hit any other vehicle.The toxicological tests on the driver came back negative, and the most probable hypothesis is that of falling asleep at the wheel after the long journey from Ukraine. A second driver was also present on the bus.

 

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