A winemaker in north-east Italy has died after he fell into a vat of prosecco while trying to rescue a colleague.

Marco Bettolini, 46, was working on maintenance at the Ca’ di Rajo winery in the province of Treviso on September 14, when he noticed his workmate and friend Alberto Pin was unwell.

Fumes from the fermentation process had overcome the cellar manager as he worked inside a tank which still had some wine at the bottom, according to local newspaper La Tribuna di Treviso.

Mr Bettolini tried to make his way into the vat to save Mr Pin at around 2pm, but fell from the edge and struck his head hard on the backside.

He may have become overwhelmed by the fumes himself or may have lost his balance, the newspaper said.

Mr Pin, 31, was taken to hospital in the city of Treviso and placed in an induced coma, News Italy 24 said.

Simone Cecchetto, the owner of the winery, said: ‘We are overwhelmed by grief – for us, they are two brothers, two sons.

‘My thoughts go only to these two boys who grew up with us and their families. We pray that the boy who was injured recovers as soon as possible.’

An autopsy will determine whether Mr Bettolini died from asphyxiation or drowning.

It has since emerged that neither of the men, both highly experienced in the industry, were wearing an oxygen tank and respirator.

Prosecutors in Italy have begun an investigation, and plan to seize the tank at the centre of the incident.

Chief prosecutor Marco Martani said: ‘From the information gathered so far by the judicial police, no one should have entered that autoclave, as the maintenance work is entrusted to a specialized external company equipped with masks and systems that would have prevented the risk of gas poisoning.

‘From an investigative point of view it is important to delve into the reason why the two employees entered the tank.’

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2023-09-18T20:53:48Z dg43tfdfdgfd