Italian explosion: Search after deadly blast at power plant

Four people have died and several are missing following an explosion at a hydroelectric power plant in northern Italy.

The blast occurred underwater at the plant on Lake Suviana, 70km (43 miles) from the city of Bologna.

The affected area is located 30m (100ft) below the surface of the lake.

The mayor of the nearby town of Camugnano told Ansa news agency that a fire was believed to have broken out during maintenance work.

Marco Masinara said rescuers had trouble gaining access and that the accident had been "serious".

Three of the four who died in the disaster were aged between 35 and 73.

The prefect of Bologna, Attilio Visconti, said a fire broke out when a turbine exploded on the eight floor below the surface, causing the floor below to become flooded.

One of the divers involved in the search and rescue operation told Italian newspaper La Repubblica he had managed to reach the seventh floor below the surface but could not reach the three people trapped further down.

Several people are known to have suffered severe burns following the explosion, which took place at about 15:00 (13:00 GMT). They were flown to nearby hospitals by helicopter.

Two men have been taken to an intensive care unit, according to Italian media.

Bologna Mayor Matteo Lepore, who visited the scene on Tuesday evening, said conditions for the search teams dozens of metres underground were "really complicated". He said it was one of the worst work tragedies in Italy's recent history.

The city's chief prosecutor, Giuseppe Amato, told Italian media an investigation would be launched once the plant was safe and the missing people were found.

"We won't stop until we find them," said Luca Cari on behalf of the firefighters.

The cause of the accident is yet to be determined, but what happened is likely to fuel concerns expressed by trade unions about workplace safety in Italy.

Two of the country's largest unions were already due to hold a four-hour nationwide strike on Thursday to protest over the issue.

Regional fire chief Francesco Notaro said fire fighters and police "are all trying to secure the facility".

Lake Suviana is an artificial lake located in the Appennine mountain range near Bologna. The lake was formed following the construction of a dam in 1932.

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni wrote on X, formerly Twitter, to thank the rescue services and say she was "anxiously" following news on the explosion.

The power plant is owned by Italian energy giant Enel Green Power.

The company said there was no indication that the dam had suffered any damage, but that the power plant had stopped production.

Original article by BBC News


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