Thursday 20 June 2019

Death toll increases after Italian bridge disaster

At least 22 people are dead after a section of the Morandi Bridge fell in the port city of Genoa.

The collapsed Morandi Bridge (Italian fire service/AP)
The collapsed Morandi Bridge (Italian fire service/AP)

By Colleen Barry

At least 22 people have died and eight others were injured after a bridge on a main road linking Italy with France collapsed during a storm in Genoa.

Around 20 vehicles plunged nearly 150ft into a heap of rubble after a huge section of the Morandi Bridge collapsed over an industrial zone in the port city, sending tonnes of twisted steel and concrete debris onto warehouses below.

Firefighter Amalia Tedeschi told RAI state TV that some 20 vehicles, including cars and trucks, were caught up after a stretch of the bridge measuring around 260ft fell.

She said two people had been pulled alive from vehicles in the rubble and transported to hospital by helicopter.

Edoardo Rixi, a transport official, told Sky TV that 22 people were dead and eight others were hurt.

Video captured the sound of a man screaming: “Oh God! Oh, God!” Other images showed a green truck which stopped just short of the gaping hole in the bridge, and the tyres of a tractor among the rubble.

A truck stopped right at the edge of the area where the Morandi bridge collapsed (Vigili Del Fuoco/AP)

Firefighters said they were worried about gas pipes exploding in the area as a result of the collapse.

The ANSA news agency said authorities suspected a structural weakness had caused the collapse, although there was no immediate explanation for what had happened.

Italy’s transport minister, Danilo Toninelli, called the collapse “an enormous tragedy”.

Rescuers work in the debris (AP)

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte will travel to Genoa later.

Interior minister Matteo Salvini said some 200 firefighters were responding to the accident.

He said on Twitter: “We are following minute by minute the situation of the bridge collapse in Genoa.”

The disaster occurred on a major road that connects Italy to France, and links northern cities like Milan to the beaches of Liguria.

It came on the eve of a major Italian summer holiday called Ferragosto, which marks the religious feast of the Assumption of Mary.

The bridge would have been busy with holiday traffic on the eve of a major festival (AP)

The day marks the high point of the Italian summer holiday season when most cities and businesses are closed and Italians head to the beaches or the mountains, which meant traffic was heavier than usual on the Genoa highway.

The Morandi Bridge is a main thoroughfare connecting the A10 highway that heads for France and the A7 route that continues north towards Milan. Inaugurated in 1967, it is 148ft high, and around half a mile long.

The collapse of the bridge comes eight days after another major accident on an Italian highway, near the northern city of Bologna.

In that case, a tanker truck carrying a highly flammable gas exploded after rear-ending a stopped truck on the road before it was hit from behind itself. The accident killed one person, injured dozens and blew apart a section of a raised eight-lane highway.

Press Association

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