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Motorway bridge collapses over Italian city of Genoa

August 14, 2018

A motorway bridge, reported to reach around 50 meters over the northwestern city, has collapsed. Dozens of people have been killed and many others seriously injured, according to authorities.

Italien Genua | Einsturz Autobahnbrücke Morandi | Rettungsarbeiten
The collapsed Morandi Bridge is seen in the Italian port city of Genoa Image: Reuters/Str

Part of a motorway viaduct in the northwestern Italian city of Genoa collapsed on Tuesday, killing around 30 people and injuring many others, Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini was quoted as saying by the AGI news agency. 

As many as 35 vehicles were driving on the section when it collapsed in torrential rain.

What we know so far: 

  • An 80-meter (262-foot) section of the Morandi Bridge collapsed above a river, railroad tracks and buildings at around 11:30 a.m. local time (0930 UTC).
  • Several cars plunged 45 meters off the bridge into the rubble below.
  • Local police said the bridge collapsed during a severe downpour and violent storm.
  • Seven people were reportedly pulled out alive from the rubble. Nineteen bodies have been recovered.
  • Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte traveled to the site where he praised rescue workers.

Bridge in Italy collapses during storm – Journalist Philip Willan in Rome

'They will pay'

Conte told RAI state TV "it is shocking to see the twisted metal and the bridge collapsed with victims who were extracted."

Italy's Transport Minister Danilo Toninelli said the bridge collapse looked like an "immense tragedy" and that he was "following with the greatest apprehension what has happened in Genoa."

Interior Minister and head of the right-wing League party, Matteo Salvini, said the incident showed Italy needed to spend more on its dilapidated infrastructure, even if it meant ignoring EU budget constraints. "We should ask ourselves whether respecting these limits is more important than the safety of Italian citizens. Obviously for me, it is not."

Salvini said he wanted the "names and surnames of those who are to blame, because a tragedy like this in 2018 is not acceptable." "They will have to pay, pay for everything, and pay a lot."

A witness told Italian broadcaster SkyTG24 that he could see "at least eight to nine" vehicles crushed under the rubble from the bridge and said it was an "apocalyptic scene."

French President Emmanuel Macron was among the first international leaders to pay tribute to the victims in Genoa. Macron wrote on Twitter in both French and Italian: "Our thoughts go to the victims, their relatives and all the Italian people. France stands by Italy in that tragedy and is ready to provide all necessary support."

Germany's Angela Merkel also extended her condolences later on Tuesday.

"Following the horrible bridge collapse, I extend my sympathies to the people in Genoa and Italy. Just like many other Germans, my thoughts are with the victims and their relatives," Merkel said, according to her spokesman Steffen Seibert.

Firefighters film collapsed Genoa bridge from air

Italian infrastructure in spotlight: The Morandi Bridge is just the latest in a number of bridge collapses. The 1.2-kilometer (0.75-mile) bridge was constructed in 1960s as part of the A10 toll motorway. Restructuring was carried out in 2016. The incident risks deepening divisions within Italy's ruling populist government. The government's junior coalition partner, the far-right League, has called for billions of euros to be invested into the country's aging infrastructure. The Five Star Movement (M5S), meanwhile, has dismissed such projects as a waste of public funds. 

Busy traffic: The incident took place on the eve of a major Italian holiday, Ferragosto, and traffic would likely have been busier than usual. The Morandi Bridge is one of the main thoroughfares connecting the A10 motorway towards France and the A7 towards Milan.

Atlantia shares fall 10 percent: Italian holding company Atlantia, which runs a major part of the country's motorway networks, saw its shares plummet on the Milan stock exchange following news of the collapse. Share were down 9.7 percent at 22.48 euros by mid-afternoon, having been temporarily suspended earlier when the drop exceeded 10 percent.

dm/kms (AP, AFP, dpa)