Italy: Bridge collapse near Genoa kills dozens

A bridge has collapsed in Italy’s northwestern city of Genoa sending vehicles falling nearly 100 metres to the ground and killing at least 30 people, according to local authorities.

Many others were seriously injured, Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said, after part of the Morandi Bridge on the A10 motorway caved in around midday local time (10:00 GMT) on Tuesday.

About 200 firefighters were deployed to the scene, with the death toll expected to rise.

The cause of the disaster was not immediately clear, although weather services in the region had issued a storm warning Tuesday morning.

About 200 firefighters were deployed to the scene of the collapse [Italian Firefighters Press Office handout via EPA]

A director for motorway operator Autostrade, which manages the section of the toll road that collapsed, said it had been impossible to predict.

“The bridge was constantly monitored, even more than was foreseen by the law … there was no reason to consider the bridge dangerous,” Stefano Marigliani told Reuters news agency.

Italy’s Civil Protection Agency, meanwhile, said it was yet to establish the cause of the incident due to a lack of sufficient information.

‘Focus on survivors’

More than 30 cars and about 10 trucks were on the viaduct when it collapsed, according to the agency.

Television images showed the bridge in the mist with a huge chunk missing, with Italian media reporting that about 200 metres of the bridge had fallen away.

About 40 vehicles were on the bridge when it collapsed, according to local media reports [Italian Firefighters Press Office handout via Reuters]

Al Jazeera’s Emma Hayward, reporting from London, said part of the bridge had “disappeared”.

“There were multiple vehicles on the bridge at the time of the collapse, plunging more than 100m below to a stream and some rail tracks,” Hayward said.

“The focus now is on trying to reach any survivors of this incident.”

Sabina Castelfranco, an Italian journalist, told Al Jazeera from Tuscany that Italy was in mourning over the incident.

“Italians are devastated by this disaster [and] the idea that our highways and bridges are not safe and that something like this can happen,” she said.

Restructuring work on the bridge was carried out in 2016 [Stefano Rellandini/Reuters]

‘An immense tragedy’

Police footage showed firemen working to clear debris around a crushed truck, while other fireman nearby scaled broken slabs of the collapsed bridge support.

Restructuring work on the 1.2km-long bridge, a major artery to the Italian Riviera and to France’s southern coast, was carried out in 2016.

The highway operator said work to shore up its foundation was being carried out at the time of it falling in, adding that the bridge was constantly monitored.

Tancredi Palmeri, an Italian journalist, told Al Jazeera from Milan that the incident took place on a usually busy stretch of road.

“Genoa is a port city that is linked to the right to Milan and the other parts of Italy and to the left is linked to Italy’s border with France,” he said.

“The bridge is one of the main two gates to the city, everybody that has been to Genoa by car has passed by this highway bridge.”

Italy’s Civil Protection Agency is yet to establish the cause of the collapse [Stefano Rellandini/Reuters]

As details emerged, Transport Minister Danilo Toninelli said the incident was “an immense tragedy”, adding he was travelling to the scene of the collapse.

“I am following with the greatest apprehension what has happened in Genoa,” Toninelli wrote on Twitter.

The office of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said he was heading to Genoa in the evening and would remain there on Wednesday.

Defence Minister Elisabetta Trenta, meanwhile, said the army was ready to offer manpower and vehicles to help with the rescue operations.

French President Emmanuel Macron has offered Italy his country’s help following the incident.

Italian media reports said about 200 metres of the bridge had fallen away [Italian police handout via AFP]

SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies

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