MILAN, August 19, 2018 (News Wires) - The search operation for those missing after a motorway bridge collapsed in the Italian port city of Genoa ended overnight after the last three bodies were found, bringing the official death toll to 43.
A 200-metre section of the Morandi bridge gave way in busy traffic on Tuesday, plunging vehicles and chunks of concrete and twisted metal to the ground 50 meters below.
After three bodies were recovered from a car crushed under slabs of concrete, the Genoa prefecture raised its official death toll. Nine people are still in hospital, four in a critical condition, it said.
While all those listed as missing had now been accounted for, a fire brigade official Stefano Zanut told Sky TG24: "Our work continues in order to have the full certainty that nobody has been left under the rubble."
He said workers were also making the site secure and helping investigations to establish the cause of the disaster.
The viaduct was part of the A10 motorway linking the port city with the French border to the west and was managed by toll-road operator Autostrade per l'Italia, a unit of infrastructure group Atlantia.
Autostrade pledged half a billion euros on Saturday to rebuild the bridge and set up funds to immediately assist the families of the victims and those displaced from their homes by the collapse and reconstruction work.
On Friday, the government formally launched a procedure to revoke concessions held by Autostrade to operate toll highways.
GENOA, Italy, August 18, 2018 (News Wires) - Italy's president demanded guarantees Saturday that all the nation's roads are safe following the Genoa highway bridge collapse, after he hugged and comforted mourners at a state funeral for many of the dead in the grieving port city.
Hours earlier, the toll from Tuesday's bridge collapse rose unofficially to 42 with the discovery of four more bodies.
Firefighter Stefano Zanut told Sky TG24 TV they had found the body of a young Italian man and had extracted from tons of broken concrete the crushed car that an Italian couple on vacation with their 9-year-old daughter had been traveling in.
Before the state funeral ceremony began in a pavilion on Genoa's fairgrounds, President Sergio Mattarella offered quiet words of comfort for families of the victims. He then took his place with other Italian leaders, including Premier Giuseppe Conte and the transportation and infrastructure minister, in the cavernous hall.
Usually quite reserved in demeanor, Mattarella was embraced tightly for a long moment by a woman who was among the grieving.
Families of 19 of the dead had their loved ones' coffins brought to the hall for the funeral Mass led by Genoa's archbishop, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco.
Among the coffins were those of two young Albanian Muslim men who lived and worked in Italy. Their remains were blessed at the end of the Catholic service by a Genoa imam, who drew applause when he prayed for God to "protect Italy and all Italians."
At other funerals elsewhere in Italy on Friday, angry mourners blamed authorities of negligence and incompetence for failing to keep the bridge safe.
During the state funeral, applause rang out and many fought back tears as a prelate read out the first names of some 30 victims who have so far been identified. The mourners also applauded for Italian firefighters, police and volunteers for the civil protection department as they arrived for the funeral.
Mattarella toured what's left of the Morandi Bridge, which broke apart in a fierce rainstorm, sending a long stretch of roadbed crashing 45 meters (150 feet) into a dry river bed and near several apartment buildings. Those buildings have been evacuated and local authorities have said they will have to be demolished.
Mattarella didn't speak at the funeral, held on a national day of mourning, but after the ceremony ended, he told reporters the bridge collapse "is an unacceptable tragedy."
He called the funeral "a moment of grief, shared grief, by all of Italy."
He demanded that "responsibility be ascertained with rigor" for the collapse of the bridge, which linked two major highways, one leading to Milan and the other toward France.
Prosecutors say they are focusing their probe on possible design flaws or inadequate maintenance of the highway bridge, which was completed in 1967.
"I, too, have traveled over this bridge many times, even recently," said Mattarella, demanding that authorities commit to carrying out their "duty to guarantee the safety of our roads."
The mood at the state funeral was subdued, although families voiced frustration and anger that public infrastructure isn't safe in Italy.
"These are mistakes that keep on repeating. And now, for the umpteenth time, angels have flown into heaven and paid for the mistakes of other human beings, severe mistakes," said one mourner, a local man who would only give his first name, Alessandro.
He held a placard that read: "In Italy, we prefer ribbon-cuttings to maintenance" - referring to the country's dilapidated infrastructure.
In his homily, the cardinal said the tragedy "gashed the heart of Genoa."
GENOA, August 18, 2018 (News Wires) - Italy mourned the victims of the collapse of a motorway bridge in the northern city of Genoa with a state funeral on Saturday, as rescue workers kept searching for the last few unaccounted people buried in the rubble.
On Tuesday a 200-metre section of the Morandi bridge in Genoa gave way in busy lunchtime traffic, killing at least 38 people.
The mass for 19 of the victims was held at the Exhibition and Trade Centre of the northern port city and led by the city's archbishop, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco.
But some of the victims' families boycotted the event and held their own private services, as a protest against the state, seen as negligent in its role of overseeing safety on the privately run bridge.
A car was found on Saturday morning by rescue workers under slabs of concrete. The fire brigade and the Genoa prefecture said it was "compatible" with one believed to carry a family of three. But the official death toll has not yet been revised.
The government has declared Saturday a national day of mourning and declared a state of emergency for Genoa, one of Italy's largest ports.
Members of the fire brigade, rescue teams and the police force were welcomed with applause as they entered the exhibition centre, where the caskets, including a small white one for a child, were lined up in front of a temporary altar.
"These things should not happen but unfortunately they still do. Now they're looking for someone to blame but dead people cannot come back," said Giuseppe Rondinelli, a friend of one of the victims, who was among the mourners.
Players of the city's two soccer teams, Genoa and Sampdoria, sat among the crowd, having refused to play matches this weekend in sign of respect. Relatives of the dead stood beside the coffins, adorned with white and yellow roses, some with their hands on the caskets.
Albanian flags were draped over two caskets and the Chilean flag on two others. Another was covered with soccer memorabilia.
"The collapse of the bridge was a gash in the heart of Genoa, it's a deep wound," the archbishop said in his homily.
Italy's head of state, President Sergio Mattarella, and Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte attended the ceremony as well as Transport Minister Danilo Toninelli.
A Genoa court will try to establish the exactly why the 51 year-old bridge collapsed, but experts said problems with concrete-encased cable stays were a possible cause.
ROME, August 18, 2018 (MENA) - Italian media say three more bodies have been found in rubble of the Genoa bridge collapse, raising the death toll to 41, ABC News reported.
Office of Genoa's prefect said it didn't immediately have official confirmation of the reports by ANSA news agency and other Italian news media Saturday that the bodies were found by rescuers overnight.
ANSA said the bodies were found inside a car smashed under a huge block of concrete from the collapse on Tuesday. It said they were three family members, including a child, who had been traveling for a vacation when their car, with about 30 other vehicles, plunged when the bridge gave way.
Two other people are believed to be still missing as rescue work continues.
GENOA, Italy, August 18, 2018 (News Wires) - Rescuers scoured the wreckage of Italy’s bridge collapse on Wednesday as the death toll climbed to 37 and the government blamed the bridge’s private owner, demanding resignations and moving to strip its toll concession.
The 50-year-old bridge, part of a toll motorway linking the port city of Genoa with southern France, collapsed during torrential rain on Tuesday, sending dozens of vehicles crashing onto a riverbed, a railway and two warehouses.
As cranes moved in to shift truck-sized chunks of broken concrete, hundreds of firefighters searched for survivors, while public shock and grief turned to anger over the state of the 1.2 km-long bridge, completed in 1967 and overhauled two years ago.
The condition of the bridge, and its ability to sustain large increases in both the intensity and weight of traffic over the years, have been a focus of public debate since Tuesday’s collapse, when an 80-meter span gave way at lunchtime as cars packed with holidaymakers as well as trucks streamed across it.
Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said the private sector manager of the bridge had earned “billions” from tolls but “did not spend the money they were supposed to” and its concession should be revoked.
He was apparently referring to the bridge’s concession-holder, Italian motorway firm Autostrade, a unit of Atlantia group.
“Imposing the highest penalties possible and making sure that those responsible for the dead and the injured pay up for any damages and crimes is the very least,” he said.
Fire brigade spokesman Luca Cari said 400 firefighters were at the site, lifting big chunks of concrete to create spaces for rescue teams to check for survivors.
Italy’s transport minister said on Wednesday he had begun a process to strip Autostrade of its concession and he demanded top Autostrade managers resign.
ROME, August 14, 2018 (News Wires) - A motorway bridge collapsed on Tuesday over the northern Italian port city of Genoa in what the transport minister said was likely to be "an immense tragedy".
The head of the local ambulance service said there were "dozens of dead", Italian news agency Adnkronos reported.
The local fire brigade said also victims were likely after the bridge collapsed at around 11:30am (09:30GMT) during torrential rainfall.
An ambulance official told Reuters the service could only confirm two injured people so far, "but we suppose there are unfortunately a lot of dead."
Italian television showed images of the collapsed bridge, which was built on the A10 toll motorway in the 1960s. Restructuring work on the bridge was carried out in 2016.
It crumbled over a river, railroad tracks and buildings.
A witness told Sky Italia television he saw "eight or nine" vehicles on the bridge when it collapsed in what he said was an "apocalyptic scene".
Transport Minister Danilo Toninelli said in a tweet that he was "following with great apprehension what seems like an immense tragedy".
Shares in Atlantia, the toll road operator which runs the motorway, were suspended after falling 4.6 per cent after news of the collapse.