Police in Italy have confirmed that one person has died and at least 15 were injured after a lorry collided with two buses on the motorway outside Florence. The buses were carrying migrants who had recently arrived in Lampedusa.
In the early hours of Monday (August 15) morning, a lorry collided with two coaches carrying migrants. Reports in the Italian press say that the two coaches were transporting migrants who had recently arrived on the island of Lampedusa, and was en route to other reception centers in the north of Italy.
The driver of the lorry, which reportedly collided with two coaches on the A1 motorway outside Florence, is reported to have died at the scene. The regional newspaper Bologna Today, reported that the driver was a 53-year-old Romanian national. At least 15 people were injured, said the Italian police, as quoted by the daily newspaper La Repubblica.
The motorway was closed for several hours, reported La Repubblica, because of debris that resulted from the crash causing damage to other cars. Some reported their fuel tanks or tyres were pierced because of being impacted by large objects from the crash site.
15 taken to hospital
The Italian emergency services were at the scene, and they took the 15 injured people to the accident and emergency department at a local hospital in Florence. It was not reported how serious the injuries may have been, or whether all those injured have been released from hospital by now.
Several liters of fuel however covered the road, reported La Repubblica; by 04:50am, one lane of the motorway was reopened to traffic. As August 15 is a public holiday in Italy, it is a busy time on the roads, when many people travel to see family and friends, or head off to enjoy the last few weeks of the summer holiday.
Bologna Today also wrote that the migrants who had been traveling on the two buses were then transferred to two other buses run by a company based in Tuscany to continue their journey.
Arrivals on Lampedusa
In the last few weeks, the number of migrants arriving on the Sicilian island of Lampedusa has increased, and the reception center -- or so-called hotspot -- on the island was reported to be running overcapacity.
Authorities transported several hundred migrants who had arrived at the hotspot on ferries to the mainland, to be moved to reception centers around Italy. This happened just before the right-wing Italian politician Matteo Salvini visited the island as part of his election campaign a week ago.
In the last couple of months, several of the private rescue ships have also been assigned the port of Taranto in Puglia to disembark the migrants they rescued -- as opposed to disembarking directly in Sicily. Reports, including from local politicians, have highlighted the overcrowding and problematic conditions in some of the reception centers around Sicily.
Italian government figures of the numbers of arrivals by sea were last updated on August 12; those figures show that more than 45,000 migrants have arrived in Italy from across the Mediterranean since the beginning of this year.
Since April, the monthly figures have outstripped the number of arrivals in the same months in 2021. In July alone, almost 14,000 migrants arrived in southern Italy from across the sea. Nationals from Tunisia, Egypt and Bangladesh account for the greatest numbers of arrivals this year.