Giant Italian bridge collapse wreaks havoc in city of Genoa

Giant Italian bridge collapse wreaks havoc in city of Genoa

Some 200 firefighters were on the scene, the fire service said, and Italian news agency ANSA said two survivors had been pulled out of the rubble under the collapse.

One entire family died in the accident, Sciuto added.

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.

One eyewitness, who gave his name as Andrea Rescigno and said he was in his auto at the time of the bridge collapse, said in a phone interview with Genoa TV station Primocanale that he saw "cars and trucks plunging into the void".

A fire service spokesperson told AFP that the bridge had mostly fallen on rail tracks 100 metres below and that cars and trucks had fallen with the rubble.

Teams with dogs are aiding search and rescue operations, but rescuers are not hearing or seeing any signs of life, he said, adding the situation around the bridge site is still risky.

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Helicopter footage on social media showed trucks and cars stranded on either side of the 80-metre long collapsed section of the Morandi Bridge, built on the A10 toll motorway in the late 1960s. It has a maximum span of 219 metres, a total length of 1.18 kilometres, concrete piers (vertical structures that support the arches of a bridge) that reach 90 metres in height. Italy's President Sergio Mattarella said rescue efforts must be followed by a "serious and severe examination of the causes of what happened".

Rescue teams worked through the night and into the morning to recover the victims. "I don't know when", he warned. Rescuers had hoped that their child had survived but when they retrieved the body it was limp.

The collapse came on the eve of a major Italian summer holiday on Wednesday called Ferragosto, which marks the religious feast of the Assumption of Mary.

Local authorities initially cited heavy storms as partly to blame for the disaster but on Tuesday evening Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced that authorities were working on the theory of "structural failure".

The Italy built in the 1950s and 1960s is in urgent need of renovation.

In the 1990s, some major repairs were done to the bridge.

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"The top management of Autostrade per l'Italia must step down first of all", Toninelli said in a Facebook post.

But he added that they were about to launch a 20 million euro ($22.7 million) bidding process for significant safety work on the bridge.

The 1967 bridge, considered innovative in its time for its use of concrete around its cables, had always been due for an upgrade, especially since the structure saw more heavy traffic than its designers had envisioned.

However, Prof. Brencich did not say at the time that it was in danger of collapsing, but that it required continuous improvements and maintenance and that eventually it would have to be torn down and replaced.

"There was no reason to consider the bridge unsafe".

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