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  • The wreckage of a bus that was set ablaze by its driver in protest against the treatment of migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea, is seen on a road in Milan, Italy.

    The wreckage of a bus that was set ablaze by its driver in protest against the treatment of migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea, is seen on a road in Milan, Italy. | Photo: Reuters

Published 20 March 2019

The driver had his passengers exit the vehicle before he set it ablaze. At least twelve have been taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation. 

A 47-year-old school bus driver in Milan asked teenagers onboard to get out of the vehicle before he doused the inside with gasoline and set fire to it in protest at the treatment of migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean, Italian media reported Wednesday.

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Fire services arrived in force to put out the blaze. No one was injured but twelve teenagers were taken to hospital with intoxication, hospital sources said. Two adults were also reportedly taken the hospital, however, authorities said only one was injuired. An official told Sky TG24 that the children alerted authorities, which aided a fast emergency response.

The bus driver, believed to be Senegalese-Italian, was arrested at the scene. Armed police patrolled the area. Earlier in the day, the Italian parliament blocked prosecutors from pursuing an investigation into Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini for abuse of power and kidnapping migrants.

Salvini, leader of the right-wing League party, has followed a "closed ports" crackdown on illegal immigration since he formed a ruling coalition last year with the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement.

In August, he blocked an Italian coastguard ship with 150 migrants aboard for almost a week off the coast of Sicily before finally letting it dock after Albania, Ireland and Italy's Catholic Church agreed to house them.

Magistrates subsequently put him under investigation and asked parliament to strip him of his immunity from prosecution, but on Wednesday the upper house, the Senate, threw out the request and said he had been acting in the national interest.

"I hope no one in this chamber ... has any difficulty in understanding the concept of nation and national sovereignty," Salvini told lawmakers ahead of the vote.

"This is why Italians pay my salary: to defend our borders and to maintain the security of our country."


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