Death toll in Genoa bridge collapse rises to 35

Death toll in Genoa bridge collapse rises to 35

Firefighters searched into the night on August 14 for survivors and bodies amid the rubble of a motorway bridge that collapsed in the morning in the northern Italian port city of Genoa, killing at least 22. As helicopters waited nearby, rescuers with the help of sniffing dogs scrambled to pull people from the rubble, scaling slabs of concrete angled like mountains.

An 80-metre section of the bridge, including one set of the supports that tower above it, crashed down onto the roof of a factory and other buildings, crushing at least one truck and plunging huge slabs of concrete into the river below.

Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte called it "an vast tragedy. inconceivable in a modern system like ours, a modern country". "We can't live with infrastructures built in the 1950s and 1960s".

Earlier reports suggested as many as 35 had died, with the Interior Ministry also saying "about 30" had been killed.

Italian firefighter work among the rubble of the collapsed Morandi highway bridge in Genoa, northern Italy.

"They will have to pay, pay for everything, and pay a lot", he said. "We must not allow another tragedy like this to happen again", he added.

Restructuring work was carried out in 2016 on the 1.2 km-long bridge, first completed in 1967.

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"As this reinforced and pre-stressed concrete bridge has been there for 50 years, it is possible that corrosion of tendons or reinforcement may be a contributory factor", said Ian Firth, former president of The Institution of Structural Engineers, a London-based worldwide network. The collapse appeared not to have killed anyone beneath the bridge, only people driving over it, the civil protection agency said.

"People living in Genoa use this bridge twice a day", said Deputy Transport Minister Edoardo Rixi, who is from the city.

"It was affected by extremely serious corrosion problems linked to the technology that was used (in construction)".

"The causes of the collapse will be the subject of an in-depth analysis as soon as it is possible to gain safe access to the site", Autostrade per l'Italia said.

As the death toll climbed, reaching 35 by the evening, according to the Italian news agency ANSA, officials here were preparing to investigate how a bridge that had stood for five decades suddenly gave out, turning a major transportation artery into an earthquake-like scene of destruction. The tender provided for a strengthening of the bridge's pier cables, including those of pier nine, the one that collapsed on Tuesday.

One lorry was shown just metres away from the broken end of the bridge.

Ingegneri.info said that bridges like the Morandi viaduct should have a lifespan of at least a century, but the structure has been the subject of major maintenance work in the years after its completion, in particular to fix cracks and combat degradation of the concrete. "The risk of collapses is underestimated, the works built at that time are coming to an age when they are at risk".

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