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Last Updated: Saturday, 16 September 2006, 18:47 GMT 19:47 UK
Six killed in Swiss tunnel crash
Burnt out bus from crash in Viamala tunnel, Switzerland
The bus was carrying a team of young hockey players
At least six people have been killed in a crash in a busy road tunnel in the southeast of Switzerland.

Police say a bus carrying a youth ice hockey team and a car collided in the 750-metre (820 yard) Viamala tunnel near the border with Italy and Austria.

Both vehicles caught fire, filling the tunnel with smoke and hampering rescue efforts.

The tunnel is almost 40 years old, and with traffic flowing in both directions is of the type now seen as most risky.

Police said six people had been injured and warned that the death toll might rise.

Passengers travelling in other cars were forced to flee on foot and rescue workers say a number are suffering from smoke inhalation.

'Wrong lane'

The hockey team's coach, Fernando Mozzini, told the Associated Press that the bus crashed head-on into the car, which then skidded along the tunnel wall and caught fire.

Rescue workers at crash scene outside Viamale tunnel, Switzerland
Heavy smoke hampered rescue efforts

He said the car was travelling in the wrong lane and may have swerved into oncoming traffic to avoid hitting an object in the road.

The tunnel, on the A13 motorway near the town of Chur, has been closed indefinitely.

Since a crash and fire in Switzerland's Gotthard tunnel five years ago in which 11 people died, alpine countries have made efforts to improve safety.

New road tunnels often separate traffic flowing in opposite directions and there are more emergency exits.

But bringing all the many ageing tunnels across the Alps up to modern safety standards will take time and money.

Scenes from the rescue operation

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