British family ‘ran for lives’ before Genoa bridge collapse

Marco Green
August 16, 2018

Unknown numbers of people were still missing two days after a highway bridge in northern Italy gave way, authorities said, as experts warned Thursday that thousands of other bridges in Italy could be at risk of collapse.

Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said fire crews were still pulling apart the huge slabs of concrete roadway that tumbled hundreds of feet onto a river, railway tracks and buildings, hoping to find survivors. Rescue teams have continued working throughout the night.

Asked if authorities had been given any warning that the bridge - a key link between two major highways, one headed toward France and the other to Milan - could be risky, Cozzi indicated that no serious safety concerns had reached his office before the collapse.

Transport Minister Danilo Toninelli said the collapse was "unacceptable" and that if negligence played a role "whoever made a mistake must pay". He told RAI television the government meant to cancel its deal to manage the A10 toll motorway connecting Genoa to French border. "Then I got out of the vehicle and started running".

Salvini said in Genoa on Wednesday that it is hard to establish who is not responding because they are on vacation and "who doesn't respond because they are under the rubble".

A criminal inquiry into the collapse has been announced.

The highway bridge, in the northern port city, crashed to the ground without warning on Tuesday, with nearly 40 cars and trucks falling 45 metres with it.

The collapse sent dozens of vehicles plunging into the depths below.

The tragedy occurred on the eve of the "Ferragosto" August holiday, when many Italians head for the coast. I heard a roar. People ran away coming towards me. Autostrade, which operates almost 3,200km of Italian motorways, is controlled by the Benetton group through its holding company, Atlantia. The family had been making their way from Lucca, in Tuscany, to the Ligurian town of Imperia.

Around 200m of the 45m-high bridge came crashing to the ground in large blocks - along with the cars and lorries travelling on it - in Genoa on Tuesday morning.

On Tuesday engineering website "Ingegneri.info" called it "a tragedy waiting to happen". "Since this bridge was under constant maintenance, the time had come to consider a replacement for the bridge". "There was lots of traffic; there is always a lot of traffic there".

During the press conference, the prime minister took aim at toll-road operator Autostrade, a unit of Milan-listed Atlantia group, which operated the bridge as part of a stretch of the A10 motorway it manages.

"The causes for the collapse will be the subject of an in-depth analysis as soon as it is possible to safely access the site", the company said.

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

We're committed to continually improving our network to make every journey the safest it can be. "Then a serious investigation into the cause of what happened must follow".

Aerial footage showed more than 200 metres of the viaduct, known locally as the Morandi bridge, completely destroyed. "Mafia-related companies are known to have infiltrated the cement and reconstruction industries over the decades and prosecutors have accused them of doing shoddy work that can not withstand high stress", reported Canada's Globe and Mail. Earlier, the company said it had carried out regular, sophisticated checks on the structure before the disaster and that these had not shown up early signs of trouble.

Montefusco, who grew up in Genoa, added: "It [the bridge] was a sort of jewel in Italian engineering, because at that time it was built with new engineering techniques".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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