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Migrant farm workers killed in Italy road crash

Labourers die in southern Foggia province after the van they were travelling in smashed into a truck.

Lesina in the province of Foggi

At least a dozen people, including migrant labourers returning home after spending the day working in the fields, have been killed in a crash between a van and a lorry in southern Italy.

Italian news agency ANSA reported on Monday that the accident took place on a state highway in the area of Lesina in the province of Foggia.

Pictures from the scene showed a white minivan flipped on its roof and lying in the middle of the road following a head-on collision with a truck carrying flour.

Citing police sources, ANSA said 12 people were killed in the crash, adding that at least some of the victims were migrant farm workers who were travelling in the van. Three people, including the truck driver, were injured in the crash.

AFP news agency quoted the fire service as saying that all the victims came from North Africa.

The accident happened two days after four African migrants died in a similar crash in the same region.

Thousands of migrants work in the Italian agriculture sector, harvesting fruit and vegetables. 

Although most of them have regular papers, they live in squalid conditions and suffer tough working conditions and low pay.

Local reports said that Fai Cisl, an agricultural trade union, was investigating whether these were avoidable tragedies.

"We want to know if someone is responsible, if the deaths were an avoidable tragedy," the union said on August 4, after the first accident.

"And if the transport was regulated, or if the workers were crammed into the van as still happens, unfortunately, very often," they added.

Flavio Di Giacomo, a spokesman for the International Organization for Migration, also expressed concern on Monday, writing on Twitter that "in Italy, thousands of migrants work in black labour market, often exploited in the fields".

Separately, at two least people were killed also on Monday when a tanker truck caught fire and on a major highway in Bologna, northern Italy.

Some people were reportedly hit by flying glass as windows shattered in nearby buildings.

"More than 60 people were injured ... some seriously," Deputy Prime Minister Luigi di Maio wrote on Twitter.

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