(CNN) — Two passenger trains collided head-on in a rural area of southeastern Italy late Tuesday morning, killing at least 20 people, a provincial official said, and prompting authorities to ask for blood donations for an unspecified number of injured.
Pictures from the scene in the Puglia region showed both trains were on the same track about 15 kilometers south of the Adriatic Sea, apparently headed toward each other.
Images distributed by firefighters there showed the smashed remains of train cars and a large area of scattered, twisted metal at the impact site about 7 kilometers east of the city of Andria.
One train was headed from Andria to Corato, while the other was headed in the opposite direction, Italian news agency ANSA reported.
Giuseppe Corrado, deputy president of the Barletta-Andria-Trani province, said at least 20 people were killed. Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi called for an investigation into the collision.
“There will be a full inquiry to find out who is responsible for this crash, and what has happened,” Renzi told reporters Tuesday in Milan.
The rescue and recovery effort is ongoing, he added. A hospital in Andria was asking the public for blood donations for the injured through a local news website.
Renzi planned to visit the crash site on Tuesday evening, an Italian government website said.
The state-run rail company FS Group offered condolences and said both trains were operated by the private company Ferrotramviaria SpA, which runs commuter rail services in the area.
“The employees of the Italian FS Group are close to the victims’ families, the wounded and colleagues at Ferrotramviaria,” the FS Group said.
Details on what led to the crash weren’t immediately available.
The wreck happened in a relatively remote area. Local authorities took to social media to ask for any doctors and medics in the area to go to the crash site to help the injured.
“It’s not an area that’s easily accessible. The closest highway is miles away,” CNN contributor Barbie Nadeau said.