• Tuesday, Nov 20, 2018
  • Last Update : 06:12 pm

Anger grows in Italy as bridge toll rises to 39

  • Published at 07:11 pm August 15th, 2018
2018-08-14_ITALY-GENOA-COLLAPSE
The collapsed Morandi Bridge is seen in the Italian port city of Genoa August 14, 2018 Reuters

The tragedy has focused anger on the structural problems that have dogged the decades old bridge and the private sector firm Autostrade per l'Italia

Rescuers scoured crushed mountains of rubble for victims of a bridge collapse in Genoa as the toll rose to 39 on Wednesday and Italy's government blamed the company in charge of motorways for the disaster.

A vast span of the Morandi bridge caved in during a heavy rainstorm in the northern port city on Tuesday, sending about 35 cars and several trucks plunging 150 feet onto the railway tracks below.

At least 39 people are known to have died and 15 injured, according to Italy's Civil Protection service.    

Children aged eight, 12 and 13 were among the dead, Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said on Wednesday, adding that more people were still missing.

Three Chileans, who live in Italy, and three French nationals were also killed, according to their respective diplomatic services.

Hundreds of rescuers continued their search on Wednesday after scouring the huge piles of concrete and twisted metal overnight by floodlight, hoping to find survivors.

The tragedy has focused anger on the structural problems that have dogged the decades old bridge and the private sector firm Autostrade per l'Italia, which is currently in charge of operating and maintaining the country's motorways.

Italy's government said it intended to revoke the company's contract and hit it with a fine of $170 million.

Deputy prime minister Luigi Di Maio, who arrived in Genoa on Wednesday morning, earlier said the tragedy "could have been avoided."

"Autostrade should have done maintenance and didn't do it," he said.

Aerial footage of the viaduct shows lines of abandoned vehicles stretching across the remaining section of the bridge, with one truck perched towards the edge of a gaping precipice where a huge part is missing.

Fire official Emanuele Gissi, who told AFP that three bodies were retrieved during the night, said two large cranes were set to be used in the rescue and recovery operation, which is expected to take days.

"All accessible spaces have been explored, now we are moving the largest pieces of debris," Gissi said.

"We cannot know if there are survivors remaining, but it's our job to search."

More than 650 feet of the 1960s bridge crumpled without warning as traffic crossed the busy stretch of motorway on Tuesday, in the deadliest disaster of its kind in Europe since 2001.

The collapse came as the bridge was undergoing maintenance work while the Liguria region, where Genoa is situated, experienced torrential rainfall.

Italian President Sergio Mattarella said a "catastrophe" had hit Genoa and the whole of Italy.

"Italians have the right to modern and efficient infrastructure that accompanies them safely through their everyday lives," Mattarella said.