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Italy: At least 38 killed in Avellino bus accident (PHOTOS)

The bus plunged off a bridge while on its way back from a visit to a Catholic shrine.

At least 38 people have died after a bus plunged off a bridge in southern Italy on its way back from visiting a Catholic shrine, according to the BBC, which cited emergency workers.

The BBC reported that around 50 people, including some children, were on the bus as it traveled through the town of Avellino, near Naples, Sunday evening. 

The bus was said to be returning to Naples from a weekend pilgrimage to the Padre Pio shrine in San Giovanni Rotondo.

Eleven people were taken to the hospital, some in serious condition.

"The situation is critical," lead fireman Pellegrino Iandolo told Italian television.

"Our men are working to save as many lives as possible."

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Andrea Regione, a photographer for the Corriere dell'Irpinia newspaper, told CNN that the bus fell roughly 30 meters (almost 100 feet) off of a bridge into a heavily wooded area below.

Photos of the scene appeared to show bodies lined up in a row, each covered in a white sheet. The driver of the bus is reported to be among the dead.

Police told news agency AFP that the Naples-Bari highway had been closed to traffic because of the accident.

According to the New York Times, the road includes a series of bridges over mountainous terrain, making it "particularly treacherous."

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