A bus exploded into flames near one of Rome's most visited sites, charring nearby buildings. Investigators are looking into the cause of the fire.
An electrical short circuit was apparently responsible for sending a public bus up in flames on Tuesday in Rome. Initially people thought it was a terrorist attack.
Residents and tourists watched the bus turn into a blazing inferno in the heart of Rome's historic center. No one was seriously injured.
The incident happened shortly after 10 a.m. (0800 UTC) Tuesday. Several explosions set off nearby car alarms.
The bus explosion took place on the Via del Tritone just a few blocks from the premier's office and the Trevi Fountain. It also charred several stories of a nearby building.
Prosecutors and the public transport service ATAC have opened an investigation into the cause. The ANSA news agency said the fire was apparently caused by a short circuit.
The fire has drawn more attention to the sad state of Rome's public transit system. In 2017, ATAC was declared insolvent after losing €1.4 billion ($1.66 billion) from 2009-2016.
"It's the umpteenth bus that's gone up in flames in the city. We estimate that this kind of thing happens once a month," Michele Frullo of the USB union told ANSA.
Trade union leaders have said that of a fleet of 1,900-2000 buses, 30 percent of them are not considered roadworthy and the average age of a bus is 14 years. The European standard is roughly 8 years.
av/kms (AP, DPA)