A drunk driver ploughed into pedestrians in an Italian Alpine village on Sunday, killing six German tourists and injuring 11 other people, emergency services said.
The accident happened at around 1:15 am (0015 GMT) in the village of Lutago near the Austrian border in an area popular with skiers.
A group of German tourists had left a nightclub shortly before the car slammed into them at high speed — throwing some of them dozens of metres.
Six Germans were killed, a fire service official in Lutago told AFP. Eleven other people were injured — two of whom were seriously hurt and flown by helicopter to a hospital in Innsbruck in Austria.
The local head of Italy’s paramilitary carabinieri police force told AFP the driver had between 1.9 and 2.0 grams of alcohol per litre in his blood, about four times the maximum allowed level.
The driver, a 27-year-old local, was charged with murder and put in hospital under police guard.
– ‘A terrible scene’ –
Roughly 160 emergency workers went at the scene and a field hospital was set up by the road.
“A terrible scene, people on the ground, cries and pain, a tragedy – we don’t have the words,” a hotel receptionist told the Corriere della Sera newspaper.
“We have asked several times for a radar on this road as drivers speed up as soon as they leave Lutago and here, one kilometre from the centre, they go at 100 kilometres an hour.”
“The New Year has begun with a tragedy,” South Tyrol governor Arno Kompatscher told reporters.
South Tyrol is a largely German-speaking province with a high degree of autonomy, known in particular for the Dolomites mountain chain.
The German foreign ministry in Berlin said its consulate in Milan was “in close touch with the Italian authorities who are proceeding with the identification of the victims, assisting those who have been affected”.
Lutago, in the picturesque Aurina valley, is popular with tourists who ski at Klausberg and Speikboden.
The village of about 800 residents is the location for a popular Italian television series “Un Passo dal Cielo” (“One Step from Heaven”).
Last week, three Germans – a woman and two girls, one of them aged seven – were killed in an avalanche in South Tyrol.
Italy has also suffered several high-profile road accidents in recent months, one in December when the son of a well-known film director hit and killed two 16-year-old girls in a Rome.