Between 10-20 people may still be missing in Italy bridge collapse

Clay Curtis
August 18, 2018

Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte says his government won't wait until prosecutors finish investigating the deadly Genoa bridge collapse to yank the concession from the main private company that maintains Italy's highways.

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

Mr Salvini declined to cite a number of the missing, saying that would be "supposition", but separately Genoa Chief Prosecutor Francesco Cozzi told reporters there could be between 10 and 20 people still buried under the rubble.

There would also be a 12-month state of emergency in and around Genoa, Conte added, with five million euros of funds going into recovery work.

Rescuers have been tunneling through tons of jagged steel, concrete and crushed vehicles that plunged as many as 45 meters (150 feet) when the bridge suddenly fell during a downpour on Tuesday. "So many people that lived here lost their lives, children. The only way to find out is to break the concrete, remove it, and then send in the dogs".

"I was driving along the bridge, and at a certain point I saw the road in front of me collapse, and I went down with the vehicle", he told local media.

Part of the 1.2km (0.8 mile) long bridge spans the Polcevera waterway, with other portions reaching over railway lines and buildings.

Angelo Borrelli, the head of Italy's civil protection agency, said: "Operations are ongoing to extract people imprisoned below parts of the bridge and twisted metal".

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Autostrade per l'Italia said in 2011 the bridge had been suffering from degradation due to heavy traffic. According to business daily Il Sole, improvement work would have involved two weight-bearing columns that support the bridge - including one that collapsed Tuesday.

As NPR's Silvia Poggioli reports from Rome, "The media are filled with speculation on the causes of the collapse, from eyewitness reports of lightning hitting the bridge during the heavy rainstorm just before the collapse, to poor maintenance, to the unforeseen vagaries of fate".

Other sections of the structure are in danger of collapse, so officials have evacuated nearby areas.

In 2016, structural engineer Antonio Brencich spoke of "errors in this bridge".

Stefano Marigliani, a senior executive at Autostrade in charge of the part of the toll road network linking the French and Italian Rivieras that includes the bridge, told the Financial Times that the structure "was monitored constantly beyond legal requirements" and that there was "no reason to consider it unsafe".

The precise cause of the collapse remains under investigation.

"This is a tragedy that is unacceptable in a modern society, and this government will do everything in its power to prevent anything of this kind from reoccurring".

On Tuesday specialist engineering website "Ingegneri.info" published a piece that highlighted longstanding concerns over the bridge, calling it "a tragedy waiting to happen".

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