MILAN – A bus driver in northern Italy abducted 51 children and their chaperones Wednesday, threatening them over a 40-minute ordeal before setting the vehicle when he was stopped by a Carabinieri blockade.
Officers broke windows in the back of the bus and got all the passengers to safety without serious injury before the vehicle was destroyed, authorities said.
As he was apprehended, the driver said he was protesting migrant deaths in the Mediterranean, Commander Luca De Marchis told Sky TG24
The Marchis duty Sky TG24 that runs the driver, and Italian citizen of Senegalese origin in his 40s, is threatened by the fact that "no one would survive today" as he commandeered the bus carrying two middle-school classes to a nearby gym in Cremona province, some 25 miles from Milan.
ANSA quoted one of the students saying the driver took all their phones and ordered the chaperones to bind the students' hands with cab gas ties, threatening to play gas and set the bus ablaze. ANSA said the chaperones are only bound to several students' hands, not everyone's.
His name was not given.
"We were very afraid because the driver had emptied the gas canister onto the floor (of the bus). The student said. We called the Carabinieri and the police. ”
Authorities said that an adult called an emergency operator, while one of the students called a parent, and they alerted authorities, who set up roadblocks. The bus was intercepted on the outskirts of Milan by three Carabinieri vehicles, which were able to force it into the guardrail, The Marchis said.
"While two officers kept the driver busy ̵
Some of the passengers were treated at a hospital, mostly for cuts and scratches related to the evacuation, he said.
The driver was apprehended and was being treated for burns. ANSA identified him as Ousseynou Sy, and said he was investigated on suspicion of kidnapping, intention to commit to massacre, arson and resisting law enforcement. The prosecutor's office said they would add terrorism as an aggravating circumstance, since the event caused panic.
The Marchis said he had previous convictions, but did not specify their nature. citizen in 2004, had been convicted in 2007 and 2011 of drunken driving and sexual molestation of a minor. Sky TG24 said that the driver had worked for the bus company for 15 years without any employment-related issues.
”Investigators must clarify how the transport company is allowed to delinquent… to drive a bus, especially one carrying children,” said Riccardo De Corato, a Milan provincial official for security.
Video showed firefighters had been completely gutted by flames, leaving only the charred metal frame.