A suspected drunk driver hit a group of young German tourists at speed early on Sunday, killing six of them and injuring 11 others, Italian authorities said.
The high-speed crash occurred in a village near Bolzano in the Alto Adige region, shortly after 1 a.m. as the Germans, who were between the ages of 20-25, gathered at the roadside to board a coach.
“The new year begins with a terrible tragedy,” said the regional president of Alto Adige, Arno Kompatscher. “We are left stunned.”
The driver of the car had a high blood alcohol content and was driving particularly fast, a Carabineri official in Brunico told The Associated Press. He said police had concluded that the car crash into pedestrians was not an act of terrorism.
The local volunteer fire service said on Facebook that six people were killed at the scene. The 11 injured, four of whom were in critical condition, were taken to several regional hospitals, including two who were airlifted to a hospital in Innsbruck, Austria, said Bolzano Carabinieri Cmdr. Alessandro Coassin.
In all, 160 rescue workers and emergency medical personnel responded to the crash.
Coassin said the driver, identified by Italian media as a 28-year-old man from the nearby town of Chienes, was arrested on suspicion of highway manslaughter and was being treated at a hospital in Brunico.
The largely German-speaking autonomous region of northern Italy, with its ski resorts in the Dolomites and quaint villages around Bolzano, is popular with German tourists.
On Sunday, mourners left candles and flowers at the crash scene, which was located along a two-lane road dotted by hotels and old piles of snow.
The accident occurred on the final long weekend of the Christmas and New Year holiday in Italy, which will be capped by Epiphany on Monday.