35 feared killed as bridge collapses in Italy

A general view of rescuers at the scene of the collapsed Morandi motorway bridge in the northwestern city of Genoa

Roberto Robbiano, his wife Ersilia Piccinino and their seven-year-old son Samuele are believed to have died when their vehicle plummeted to the ground after a section of the Morandi viaduct collapsed during torrential rain on Tuesday.

Eye-witness Ivan, 37, evacuated on Tuesday from the nearby building where he works, described the collapse as unbelievable.

Professor Brencich warned it would cost more to fix the "uneven" construction of the major highway in Italy's city of Genoa. "Oh, God!" Other images showed a green truck that had stopped just short of the edge and the tires of a tractor trailer in the rubble.

He also the government would inspect the structure of ageing bridges and tunnels across the country with a view to launching a programme of remedial works if required.

What caused an 80-meter (260-foot) long stretch of highway to break off from the 45-meter (150 foot) high Morandi Bridge in the northwestern port city is under investigation.

A picture taken on 14 August 2018 in Genoa shows a view of the Ponte Morandi motorway bridge after one of its section collapsed injuring several people. "Obviously for me, it is not", said Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, head of the right-wing League, part of the ruling coalition.

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

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.

Asked about the collapse on a live broadcast, Mr Salvini responded: "We should ask ourselves whether respecting these (budget) limits is more important than the safety of Italian citizens".

"I was driving along the bridge, and at a certain point I saw the road in front of me collapse, and I went down with the auto", Capello, who is now a firefighter, told TV news channel Sky TG24.

The bridge spans a three-quarter-mile section of the coastal city and carries highway traffic between Italy and France.

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

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Italy's Transport Minister Danilo Toninelli called on Wednesday for senior managers to resign at the company operating the bridge.

In a statement late on Tuesday, Autostrade said it's "fully committed to evaluate the best solutions to rebuild the viaduct in the quickest possible time in a secure and efficient way".

Autostrade said work to shore up the road foundation was being carried out at the time of the collapse.

In a 2016 interview posted online, Antonio Brencich, a University of Genoa professor specialising in reinforced concrete construction, said: "This bridge is usually characterised as a masterpiece of engineering, but in reality it is a failure of engineering".

The degradation may have also been compounded by heavy traffic on the bridge, which sees some 25 million vehicles every year and sits on a major artery, the A10, serving the Italian Riviera and linking northern Italy to France.

Italian President Sergio Mattarella said a "catastrophe" had hit Genoa and the whole of Italy, as attention turned to what might have caused the collapse and who might be ultimately responsible.

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