Bologna explosion injures 56, kills one

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At least three people died and 67 were injured after a tanker truck exploded on a highway in Bologna, Italy, a spokesman for Italian state police told CNN.

Flames shot up into the air, followed by a thick black cloud of smoke. Traffic was blocked in the area, and videos and photos from the scene showed burned-out vehicles and a partially-collapsed roadway.

Officials did not immediately know what kind of materials were in the tanker, but the news agency ANSA said it was liquefied petroleum gas. "I thought it was an attack".

Police closed off a number of roads in Borgo Panigale, an area on the city's outskirts, causing serious delays to those travelling to the nearby airport, which remained open.

Bologna is the lively, historic capital of the Emilia-Romagna region, in northern Italy.

Fire in Bologna
Fire raging on the motorway outside Bologna

Carabinieri said the force of the explosion blew out windows on their barracks, injuring some officers with flying glass. Aerial photos showed a gaping hole in the highway next to the tanker.

Two people have been confirmed dead and at least 56 have been injured.

Witnesses and local reports suggest that a lorry carrying other cars was involved in the crash.

Firefighters said the flames were extinguished several hours after the explosion, ANSA reported.

Firefighters working on the motorway after the accident.