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22 Dead as Italian Bridge Collapses in Storm, Sending Cars Plunging

Parul Dubey on August 14, 2018 - in Bridges, News, Transportation

A bridge on a main Italian highway collapsed Tuesday in the port city of Genoa during a sudden, violent storm, sending vehicles plunging 90 meters (nearly 300 feet) into a heap of rubble below.

Italian deputy transport minister Edoardo Rixi said that 22 people were killed and eight injured in the collapse, twice the death toll that was given by the Interior Ministry, which said 11 were killed and five seriously injured but added that the numbers could increase.


Rixi told Sky TG24 that, as he was speaking, emergency response crews were recovering a body from an automobile that was suspended on a central part of the bridge. He said people in buildings below the bridge were in some way involved, including the trash management offices for the city of Genoa.


Rixi said it is “the biggest tragedy involving a bridge of this importance in Europe in the last decades.”

Amalia Tedeschi, a firefighter, told RAI state TV that some 20 vehicles, including cars and trucks, had been involved in the collapse of a stretch of bridge some 80 meters (260 meters) in length.

She said two people had been pulled alive from vehicles in the rubble, which fell into an industrial area below the bridge. Officials said they were being transported by helicopter to a hospital.

The private broadcaster Sky TG24 said a 200-meter (over 650-foot) section of the Morandi Bridge collapsed over an industrial zone, sending tons of twisted steel and concrete debris onto warehouses below. Firefighters told The Associated Press they were worried about gas lines exploding in the area from the collapse.

Photos shared by authorities, news agencies and witnesses showed a huge gulf between two sections of the bridge. Video shared by state police showed a tower of the already-damaged bridge collapsing and the sound of a man screaming: “Oh god, oh, god.” Other images showed a green truck that had stopped just short of the gaping hole in the bridge. The tires of a tractor trailor could be seen in the rubble.

News agency ANSA said authorities suspected that a structural weakness had caused the collapse, but there was no immediate explanation by authorities for why they might have thought that or what had happened.

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

ANSA said Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte will travel to Genoa later Tuesday. Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said some 200 firefighters were responding to the accident.

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

The disaster occurred on a highway that connects Italy to France, and northern cities like Milan to the beaches of Liguria. It came on the eve of a major Italian summer holiday on Wednesday called Ferragosto, which means traffic was heavier than usual as Italians traveled to beaches or mountains.

The Morandi Bridge is a main thoroughfare connecting the A10 highway that goes toward France and the A7 highway that continues north toward Milan. Inaugurated in 1967, it is 90 meters (295 feet) high, just over a kilometer (.6 miles) long, with the longest section between supports measuring 200 meters (over 650 feet).

The collapse of the bridge comes eight days after another major accident on an Italian highway, one 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 and getting hit from behind itself. The accident killed one person, injured dozens and blew apart a section of a raised eight-lane highway.

Simone Somekh contributed from Rome.


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