Italy: Man confesses to causing deaths of three firefighters in insurance scam

9 November 2019, 12:46 | Updated: 9 November 2019, 14:39

A man has admitted blowing up his farmhouse in Italy as part of an insurance scam, leaving three firefighters dead.

Fire crews went to an address in Quargnento, in the northwestern region of Piedmont, early on Tuesday.

After the initial explosion, they were then faced with a second, stronger blast.

The suspect, Giovanni Vincenti, was detained on Friday night.

He told investigators he intended to destroy his property by setting off gas canisters, but he made a mistake with a timer connected to them and triggered two explosions, according to prosecutor Enrico Cieri.

At a news conference on Saturday morning, Mr Cieri claimed Vincenti told authorities he had no intention of causing the firefighters' deaths.

It is claimed a manual for the timer was found in Vincenti's bedroom. His wife is also being investigated.

It is claimed the insurance scam was carried out in an attempt to pay off debts.

The prosecutor said Vincenti could have prevented the deaths by telling firefighters tackling the first fire that there were more gas canisters in the house.

One of the firefighters was buried under rubble and recovered after hours of digging.

On Friday, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and other dignitaries attended funerals for the men, named by Italian fire officials as Matteo Gastaldo, Marco Triches and Antonino Candido.

In a tweet, Mr Conte said he was "moved" to see the "long silence and embrace of the community" which came out to pay tribute to the men.

Three other first responders were injured in the blasts.

The UK Fire Brigades Union has offered its "deepest sympathy and solidarity" to the families and colleagues affected by the men's deaths.