Mourners bid farewell to bus crash victims
38 killed during parish pilgrimage near Naples
Relatives gather to grieve near to the coffins of the victims of the Monteforte Irpino coach crash during the funeral held at a local indoor sports arena.
In a sad and simple ceremony yesterday, the Campania town of Pozzuoli, close to Naples, bade farewell to the victims of Sunday night’s bus crash in which 38 people lost their lives while on a parish pilgrimage.
The mass funeral, presided over by the Bishop of Pozzuoli, Gennaro Pascarello, and held in an indoor sports arena on a blisteringly hot day, was inevitably marked by a persistent outpouring of grief.
As relatives waited for the funeral Mass to begin, many sat on the sports hall floor, leaning against, touching and hugging the coffins of their loved ones in one last embrace. Some relatives placed wedding day photos on top of the coffins, while at least one was adorned with the famous bright blue shirt of the Napoli football team.
The bishop began the funeral by first saying the Lord’s Prayer and then reading out the names of the dead. He did so from an improvised, raised altar on one side of the sports hall. Below him the coffins were laid out side by side in two rows.
As he called for solidarity and support from state institutions for the families of the dead, people wept quietly.
As is the Italian custom, the 4,000 strong congregation and those who had gathered outside the sports hall to follow the service on a giant screen all applauded warmly as the bodies were carried out of the church.
Among those to attend the funeral was Italian prime minister Enrico Letta, who chose not to comment to the waiting media.
As for the investigation into the crash, media commentators continue to speculate that it was caused by mechanical failure rather than any mistake or illness on the part of the driver.