FOUR FARMERS, including two brothers, have drowned in a slurry tank on a dairy farm near Pavia in northern Italy.

Italian investigators suspect that one worker had gotten into difficulties while emptying the tank, and the others had been trying to rescue him – but all had been overcome by the suffocating gases that can rise from livestock slurries when they are agitated

The two brothers were Prem and Tarsem Singh, aged 48 and 45 respectively, who had registered their farm at Arena Po, near Milan, in 2017, and were producing milk and veal from a unit that was considered one of the biggest in the Pavia region. The other two men who died were workers Arminder Singh (29) and Majinder Singh (28). It is not clear whether they were relatives of the owners, but all four were Indian citizens originally from the Punjab.

The victims' wives had raised the alarm when the men failed to turn up for lunch on Thursday of this week. After spotting one body in the slurry, they called in firefighters, who had to wear breathing apparatus while emptying the tanks to recover all the bodies.

Italy's newly appointed agriculture minister Teresa Bellanova – who was a farm labourer herself as a teenager – tweeted her condolences and said 'safety at work is an inalienable right and we must make every effort to ensure it is respected'.