At least 22 people were killed after a large section of a motorway bridge collapsed in the northern Italian city of Genoa on Tuesday.
The emergency services said 13 people were injured, including five in critical condition, amid fears that the death toll could rise further as rescue workers battled to free people trapped under the rubble. The head of the ambulance service in the city was quoted by Italian news agency Adnkronos saying there were “dozens of dead”, Reuters reported.
The authorities estimate 30 vehicles were on the section of the bridge, known as the Morandi viaduct, when it collapsed during torrential rain. At least one lorry was seen falling off the bridge, which spans the Val Polcevera valley, and some other vehicles under the bridge were badly damaged.
The large section of the bridge that crumbled stood about 80m over a river, railroad tracks and an industrial and retail estate, which includes an Ikea store and other shopping centres, normally packed with shoppers on a rainy day.
One witness, Silvia Vieri, a 29-year-old resident, told the Financial Times that she was on her way to do some shopping when the bridge collapsed: “The rain was really heavy, I was almost under the bridge, when I saw it collapsing, it came down like sand. I saw cars falling down. The truck, a few metres ahead on the road (under the bridge), was heavily hit and damaged by a rock that fell down. The driver luckily survived but he came out with his face covered in blood.”
“From my window I saw a lot of smoke coming up, and suddenly the bridge was no longer there”, local resident Marco Piga told the FT. “I came down to the street to check the situation and saw some cars completely smashed and big electric cables sparking,” he added.
The bridge is part of the A10 toll motorway — a major route linking the French and Italian Rivieras — and was built in the 1960s. Italian toll road operator Autostrade, which is responsible for the maintenance of the bridge, said it was carrying out work on the foundations at the time of the collapse.
Italian transport minister Danilo Toninelli said his ministry would join any legal action if judges decided to open an investigation into the collapse. “If there are people responsible, they will have to pay,” Mr Toninelli told Italian news channel Sky TG24.
Autostrade told the FT that the works and state of the bridge “were under constant monitoring and supervision”, adding that “the causes of the collapse will be thoroughly investigated as soon as it is possible to access the site safely”.
Autostrade is 88 per cent owned by the Italian-Spanish infrastructure operator Atlantia, whose largest shareholder is the Benetton family with a 38 per cent stake.
Italy’s prime minister Guiseppe Conte is due to visit the scene on Tuesday evening.
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