Officials said two people have died and a further 84 injured, 14 seriously. Among the casualties, there are also 11 police officers and two traffic cops who were redirecting the traffic slowed down from a previous road incident. Part of the motorway has collapsed in the explosion. Aerial photos showed a gaping hole left in the raised highway. Pictures on social media also show plumes of smoke rising into the sky. The huge smoke column caused by the fire could be seen around the entire city of Bologna. The explosion also caused dozens of cars parked in two nearby car dealership to explode.
Roads around the area have been closed off and the city council of Bologna has appealed people to not venture outside, saying: “Use cars only if necessary.” Carabinieri said the force of the explosion blew out windows on their barracks, injuring some officers with flying glass. Many people had evacuated the area, due to the thick black smoke, but also while firefighters checked to see if buildings where windows had been blown out were safe to enter. The public prosecutor’s office has opened an investigation looking into possible manslaughter. Italy’s infrastructure and transport minister, Danilo Toninelli, said authorities were working to ensure that traffic would be able to move smoothly “on such a critical stretch.”