MILAN (Reuters) - Six German tourists were killed on Sunday when a suspected drunk driver crashed his car into a group of people in a town in northern Italy, police said.
Eleven others were injured, some seriously, during the early hours in the small town of Luttach in South Tyrol, known as Lutago in Italian, a police spokesman said.
The 27-year-old driver of the car, a German-made coupe, failed a breath test for alcohol, registering more than four times the maximum level, the spokesman said. He was arrested on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter.
According to the website of Italian daily Corriere della Sera, when told in hospital of the scale of the incident the driver said he wanted to commit suicide.
The victims, all in their early 20s, were on a group skiing holiday and were mostly from the northwest German state of North-Rhine Westphalia, state premier Armin Laschet told a news conference.
“People in our country are thinking and praying for the victims and their families,” Laschet said.
The tourists were close to a parked bus that had brought them back from a night out when the car crashed into them, sending bodies flying into the air.
“It was like a scene from a battlefield,” one fireman told local press.
Around 160 people from various emergency services were involved in the rescue operation.
“The new year unfortunately has started with a huge tragedy,” said the governor of Alto Adige, Arno Kompatscher.
Late on Sunday four of the injured remained in a serious condition, the police spokesman said. But he added around half of the tourists caught up in the incident had already left to return home.
Reporting by Stephen Jewkes; Editing by Kevin Liffey and David Holmes