At least 38 people killed in Genoa bridge collapse, national anger grows

At least 38 people killed in Genoa bridge collapse, national anger grows

The government will also look into stripping Autostrade per l'Italia, a unit of the Atlantia group, of the concession to manage the motorway that included the Morandi Bridge, and imposing financial penalties on the group, Mr Toninelli said.

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.

La Repubblica/YouTubeItalian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini commenting on the Genoa bridge collapse on August 14, 2018.

"I'm following with the utmost apprehension what is happening in Genoa and what looks like it could be an vast tragedy", Transport and Infrastructure minister Danilo Toninelli said on Twitter.

Idris also credited police for hustling 150-200 people off the bridge to the tunnel, then risking their own lives by going back onto the span to bring some of the vehicles to safety.

He said: "I don't know if there is responsibility". Authorities say at least 30 people have been killed, with the death toll expected to rise.

Asked if authorities had any warning that the bridge could be unsafe, Cozzi indicated that no serious safety concerns had reached his office before the collapse.

A 20 million-euro ($22.7 million) project to upgrade the bridge's safety had already been approved, with public bids to be submitted by September. According to the business daily Il Sole, the improvement work involved two weight-bearing columns that support the bridge - including one that collapsed Tuesday.

Italian politicians pointed fingers at possible culprits.

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Antonio Brencich, a professor of reinforced concrete construction at the University of Genoa, told Radio Capitale that Morandi's technology "was affected by extremely serious corrosion problems" and was over time shown "to be a failure".

A French lawyer identified only as Leonine by Francetvinfo told the broadcaster that she and her husband and 3-year-old son were just entering the bridge when "we saw the pylon go completely to the right, and we realized what was happening".

Italian civil engineering association CNR reportedly said structures as old as the collapsed Morandi bridge had exceeded their lifespan.

Colin Caprani, senior lecturer in structural engineering at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, said bridges "are not set-and-forget pieces of infrastructure", arguing that as the structures age, collapses like the Morandi bridge are likely to become more common occurrences.

A 2011 report by Italian highways company Autostrade per l'Italia said that the bridge had been suffering from degradation.

It called for a comprehensive plan to fix or replace tens of thousands of Italian bridges and viaducts built in the 1950s and 1960s, during the Italian economy's rapid growth as the nation surged back after the damage of the Second World War.

The Italian government, governed by a coalition of the Five Star Movement and Lega Nord, has opened an investigation to establish the cause of the collapse, which occurred during a period of torrential rain.

Italy's transportation and infrastructure minister, Danilo Toninelli, from the populist 5-Star Movement, threatened in a Facebook post that the Italian government could take direct control of the highway agency if it couldn't properly maintain the country's roadways.

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