Published: Wed, August 15, 2018
Markets | By Josh Butler

Before and after photos of Genoa bridge collapse

Before and after photos of Genoa bridge collapse

A motorway bridge has collapsed in the northwest Italian city of Genoa and fire brigade sources said 35 people were believed killed as vehicles plummeted to the ground, British Broadcasting Corporation reported.

The city of Genoa's civil protection office confirmed the updated death toll. Photos from the Italian news agency ANSA showed a massive gap between two sections of the bridge.

The 50-year-old bridge, part of a toll motorway linking the port city of Genoa with southern France, collapsed during torrential rain, sending dozens of vehicles crashing onto a riverbed, a railway and two warehouses.

More than 400 people were evacuated from buildings near or below the still-standing section of the bridge.

"The latest official number is 35 but we can't rule out that it could rise further", a spokesman for the police in Genoa said.

"We should ask ourselves whether respecting these (budget) limits is more important than the safety of Italian citizens. Obviously for me, it is not", said Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, head of the right-wing League, part of the ruling coalition.

Deputy Premier Luigi Di Maio said the tragedy "could have been avoided", adding that those responsible for the disaster had a "name and surname". He said they were still trying to figure out the cause of the collapse. It has a maximum span of 219 metres, a total length of 1.18 kilometres, concrete piers (vertical structures that support the arches of a bridge) that reach 90 metres in height.

Motorist Alessandro Megna told RAI state radio he had been in a traffic jam below the bridge and seen the collapse. "It seemed like a scene from a film, it was the apocalypse", he added.

He said the shockwave sent him flying into a wall, injuring his right shoulder and hip.

Reports say cries can be heard from people trapped in the debris.

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Italian firefighter work among the rubble of the collapsed Morandi highway bridge in Genoa, northern Italy. "We can't live with infrastructures built in the 1950s and 1960s".

Italy's Transport Minister Danilo Toninelli called on Wednesday for senior managers to resign at the company operating the bridge.

At the Vatican, Pope Francis led prayers on Wednesday for the victims of the Genoa bridge collapse.

He also said the government would carry out nationwide structural inspections of aging bridges and tunnels across the country with a view to launching a program of remedial works if required.

Autostrade said it would work with investigators to discover the cause of the disaster, and that it was already assessing how to rebuild the bridge.

The design of the bridge has been criticized in the past.

The technology of pre-stressed reinforced concrete used in the construction of the bridge was the hallmark of its designer, the celebrated Italian engineer Riccardo Morandi, who died in 1989.

"There will be a time when maintenance costs will exceed those of reconstruction, and then we will have to proceed with the replacement". Buildings under the bridge were damaged in the collapse and there is concern that the rest of the bridge could fall, he said.

The government has pledged to increase public investments and lobby the European Commission to have the extra spending excluded from EU deficit calculations.

The collapse of what has now been dubbed "the bridge of death" in Italy left a gaping hole in the heart of this city - and many unanswered questions about whether the structure, which local residents say was under a constant state of fix, was still fit for objective half a century after it was built.

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