Italy bus crash: Mass funeral held near Pozzuoli

There were emotional scenes at the huge sports hall, as Nik Gowing reports

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A funeral has been held near the southern Italian town of Pozzuoli for the 38 victims of Sunday's bus crash.

Prime Minister Enrico Letta was among about 4,000 people at the service, which was held in a sports hall.

Bishop of Pozzuoli, Gennaro Pascarella, urged the authorities to clarify the causes of the accident, saying: "We must ensure this never happens again."

The coach lost control on a viaduct near Monteforte Irpino, hitting several other cars and plunging into a ravine.

In his homily, Bishop Pascarella appealed for support for the bereaved families.

"Political and religious institutions should not leave our brothers alone, especially those who have found themselves without any economic support," he said.

taly"s Prime Minister Enrico Letta (C) looks on during a mass funeral on July 30, 2013, in Monteruscello, southern Italy Prime Minister Enrico Letta joined rescue workers during a day of mourning
On July 30, 2013, relatives gather to grieve near to the coffins of the victims of the Monteforte Irpino coach crash. Relatives of the dead gave their final farewell at a sports hall close to the crash site
A general view of the funeral a mass funeral on July 30, 2013, in Monteruscello, southern Italy Up to 4,000 mourners packed into the venue heard a homily by the local bishop
A view of a toy lies on the ground among the debris after a coach plunged from a flyover on the A16 motorway between Monteforte Irpino and Baiano on July 29, 2013 near Baiano, Italy. A number of children were on board the coach when it crashed
People mourn next to the coffins of victims of a coach crash before the start of the funeral service at the Monteruscello Palasport near Pozzuoli July 30, 2013. Bereaved families had to identify their loved ones in a temporary mortuary

Families and friends of those killed in the accident crowded around the flower-draped coffins, lined up in front of the altar.

"We feel terrible. We all know each other here. We are all a bit like brothers and sisters," said one man, Franco, who said he had lost a friend in the accident.

Before the ceremony, relatives of the dead wept and clutched the coffins, placing flowers, photographs and other memorabilia for their loved ones.

One coffin was adorned with a photo of the deceased's wedding day, and a scarf in the colours of the football team, Napoli.

Bodies identified

On Monday, hundreds of relatives had to identify the bodies of their loved ones at a school near the crash site which had been turned into a temporary morgue.

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They told me to look at all the bodies until I found my brother”

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"They told me to look at all the bodies until I found my brother," said one man who gave his name as Ciro.

"It was like a mountain had fallen on my head."

Ten of the coach's passengers were hurt in the accident on Sunday. Nine people were also injured in cars hit by the bus before it careered off the road.

Prosecutors have launched an investigation into possible manslaughter.

One survivor said from her hospital bed that she believed a tyre had burst. Police have ordered a post-mortem examination on the body of the driver, who is among the dead.

Investigators will examine the driver's role as well as the condition of the coach and the crash barriers on the road.

The vehicle was carrying a local tour group from the birthplace of Padre Pio, an Italian priest canonised in 2002.

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