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Italian bus driver tries to burn dozens of schoolchildren alive

21 March 2019 08:47 am - 6     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


A bus driver in northern Italy abducted 51 children and their chaperones Wednesday, threatening them over a 40-minute ordeal before setting the vehicle on fire when he was stopped by a police blockade, authorities said.

Officers broke windows in the back of the bus and got all the passengers to safety without serious injury before the flames destroyed the vehicle, authorities said.

As he was apprehended, the driver said he was protesting migrant deaths in the Mediterranean, Cmdr. Luca De Marchis told Sky TG24.

De Marchis told Sky TG24 that the driver, an Italian citizen of Senegalese origin in his 40s, threatened the passengers, telling them that "no one would survive today" as he commandeered the bus carrying two middle school classes to a nearby gym in Cremona province, about 25 miles from Milan.

ANSA quoted one of the students as saying the driver took all their phones and ordered the chaperones to bind the students' hands with cable ties, threatening to spill gas and set the bus ablaze. ANSA said the chaperones only loosely bound several students' hands, not everyone's.

One of the students described his terror in an interview with La Repubblica TV, his face obscured due to his age. His name was not given.

"We were all very afraid because the driver had emptied the gas canister onto the floor [of the bus]. He tied us up and took all the telephones so we could not call the police," the student said.

"One of the telephones, belonging to a classmate, fell to the ground, so I pulled off the handcuffs, hurting myself a bit, and went and picked it up. We called the carabinieri and the police."

Authorities said that an adult called an emergency operator, while one of the students called a parent, and they alerted authorities, who set up roadblocks. The bus was intercepted on the outskirts of Milan by three carabinieri vehicles, which were able to force it into the guardrail, De Marchis said.

"While two officers kept the driver busy — he took a lighter and threatened to set fire to the vehicle with a gasoline canister on board — the others forced open the back door, breaking two windows," De Marchis said. While the evacuation was still underway, the driver started the blaze.

De Marchis credited the officers' "swiftness and courage," for getting all the children and their teachers out "with no tragic consequences."

Some of the passengers were treated at a hospital, mostly for cuts and scratches related to the evacuation, he said.

The driver was apprehended and was being treated for burns. ANSA identified him as Ousseynou Sy, and said he was being investigated on suspicion of kidnapping, intention to commit a massacre, arson and resisting law enforcement. The prosecutor's office later said terrorism would be added as an aggravating circumstance, since the event caused panic.

De Marchis said Sy had previous convictions, but did not specify their nature.

ANSA reported that Sy, who became an Italian citizen in 2004, had been convicted in 2007 and 2011 of drunken driving and sexual molestation of a minor. Sky TG24 said he had worked for the bus company for 15 years without any employment-related issues.

"Investigators must clarify how the transport company permitted such a delinquent ... to drive a bus, especially one carrying children," said Riccardo De Corato, a Milan provincial security official.

Video showed firefighters dousing the bus that had been completely gutted by flames, leaving only the charred metal frame. (latimes)

  Comments - 6

  • suresh Thursday, 21 March 2019 09:16 AM

    What is the world coming to

    Dee Thursday, 21 March 2019 09:22 AM

    Migrants are a menace to any country!

    khaleel Thursday, 21 March 2019 11:35 AM

    yes indeed, make you as an example an leave lanka to your country of origin (Bihar)

    Nimal Thursday, 21 March 2019 11:24 AM

    In NZ, 50 people died by firing in last Friday. Within 5 days another try in Italy by fire. Why people are so cruel ? Reason : Increase of End time evil actions by sending demons from hell to earth to attack people.

    kumar Thursday, 21 March 2019 04:06 PM

    It is the biggest fault of the management to give employment for a person with such criminal background.

    Athula Kumara Friday, 22 March 2019 07:58 AM

    khaleel If you ask us to leave the only land in the world where our native language is spoken, culture exists What kind of attitude you have for other countries with much shorter history like Europeans? Americans? You will be a very bad immigrant for tham.

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