Boubacar Touré: Unlikely Hero in Fiery Venice Bus Tragedy


A sudden, earth-shaking crash that echoed through the night was the first indication that something was horribly awry for Boubacar Touré and his roommates. Nestled in the confines of their apartment, preparing dinner, the alarming noise contorted their quiet routine into a scene out of a disaster movie. A panicked voice sliced through the confusion, alerting them to the harrowing sight: a bus, seemingly swallowed by flames, was on its side.

Rushing to the scene of the fiery disaster, Boubacar found himself amidst an atmosphere choked with terror and despair. The 27-year-old Gambian native recounts the piercing cries of a woman, desperate for her child who was gravely injured but miraculously clinging onto life – a life Boubacar played a crucial role in saving.

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The bus, brimming with tourists returning to a nearby campsite after a day exploring the historical grandeur of Venice, had been cruising on a busy overpass. Suddenly, on that fateful Tuesday evening, it took a catastrophic detour off the side, crashing through the barriers and plunging onto a railway track where it burst into flames. The tragedy left at least 21 people dead, with many of the 15 injured in critical condition and among them were children, even a baby.

The victims hailed from seven nations including Ukraine, Germany, Romania, and Portugal, according to the Venice mayor’s office. Boubacar, who had managed to pull a few survivors from the terrifying wreckage, talks of futile attempts to douse the flames devouring the bus, an electric-powered one whose batteries are alleged to have sparked the fire.

Odion Eboigbe from Nigeria, Boubacar’s roommate, stood hand in hand with him amidst the calamity, pulling victims through the wreckage. Despite their heroic efforts, many were lost to the inferno. “We were able to save many but others, unfortunately, did not make it”, Odion revealed.

The scene at the crash site was an amalgamation of vibrant yellow flowers laid by mourners, fragments of shattered glass littering the tarmac, and barriers violently disrupted. Ironically, there was no sign of sudden braking from the bus prior to the plunge. Investigations suggest Alberto Rizzotto, the driver with seven years of service under the bus company, succumbed to a sudden medical predicament which resulted in the loss of control.

The aftermath left an indelible mark on Venice. Relatives of the victims have started flocking to this city, steeped in grief and disbelief. Speculations regarding the run-down condition of the overpass barriers have invited serious questions about road safety in Italy.

Boubacar and Odion, the two remarkable men who haven’t slept a wink since the crash, resent being tagged as heroes. “If saving people makes you a hero, then maybe,” says Boubacar hesitantly, adding, “When somebody needs help because they’re dying, you can’t just walk away.”