WHAT WE KNOW

  • What: A section of the Morandi Bridge near Genoa collapsed about noon local time in Italy (8pm AEST) on Tuesday.
  • Victims: At least 26 people have been killed. About 30 vehicles and some few heavy-duty trucks were involved in the collapse.
  • Cause: The cause of the collapse is still unclear. But the company involved says the bridge was undergoing maintenance at the time. 

 

UPDATE: AN ITALIAN engineering professor appeared to predict the Morandi Bridge disaster two years ago, warning it would be cheaper to just build a new one.

Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said 26 people were killed and 15 injured after the highway bridge, in the northern port city of Genoa, suddenly collapsed.

In 2016, Antonio Brencich, associate professor of civil engineering at the University of Genoa, warned it would cost more to repair the "uneven" construction, rather than just knock the bridge down.

He said maintenance costs "are so exorbitant that it would be cheaper to build a new one".

"The Morandi Bridge is referred to as a masterpiece of engineering. In reality it is a bankruptcy," he said in an interview with Italian TV channel primocanale.it.

"That bridge is wrong. Sooner or later it will have to be replaced. I do not know when.

"But there will be a time when maintenance costs will exceed those of reconstruction, and then we will have to proceed with the replacement."

The exact cause of the collapse remains unknown.

In December 2016, Genoan newspaper Il Secolo XIX claimed bridge restorations were underfunded because authorities "preferred to allocate more funds to new works".

The highway had already undergone significant maintenance in the 1980s and 1990s.

Genoa Mayor Marco Bucci told CNN the bridge collapse was "not absolutely unexpected".

"(It's a) very bad time with the collapsing of the bridge which was not absolutely unexpected. But we don't know the reason," he said.

"My role as the mayor is to make sure we have the correct infrastructure for the city and make sure that from the government we get the right amount of money in order to be able to set up the new infrastructure as soon as possible."

Transport Minister Danilo Toninelli said it was "unacceptable" and that "whoever made a mistake must pay", assuming negligence was the cause.

Mr Conte travelled to the site of the disaster this morning saying "it is shocking to see the twisted metal and the bridge collapsed with victims who were extracted".

He also praised the hundreds of rescue workers still at the site, saying "they saved people who fell 45m and are now alive and in the hospital".

This photo released by the Italian firefighters shows the collapsed Morandi highway bridge in Genoa, northern Italy.  Picture:  AP
This photo released by the Italian firefighters shows the collapsed Morandi highway bridge in Genoa, northern Italy. Picture: AP

About 200m of the 45m-high bridge came crashing to the ground in large blocks - along with the cars and lorries travelling on it - in Genoa on Tuesday morning.

"We're not giving up hope. We've already saved a dozen people from under the rubble," said rescue official Emanuele Giffi.

"We're going to work round the clock until the last victim is secured."

The search for survivors continues among three areas where the debris fell.

"There are buildings that have been hit but it seems that all the victims were on the bridge," Mr Giffi said.

Rescuers work among the rubble of the collapsed Morandi highway bridge in Genoa, northern Italy.  Picture:  AP
Rescuers work among the rubble of the collapsed Morandi highway bridge in Genoa, northern Italy. Picture: AP

CRUSHING HORROR: Dozens killed after bridge collapse

EARLIER: ITALY'S ambulance service says there are "dozens of dead" after a motorway bridge collapsed in Genoa.

Emergency services initially said at least 35 people are believed to have died.

But Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said 26 people were killed and 15 injured

A baby is among the victims, local media reported.

There are also fears for the structural soundness of the rest of the bridge and people have been evacuated from surrounding buildings.

The area's regional governor has reportedly said the death toll is expected to rise significantly.

A bridge has collapsed in Genoa, Italy.  Picture:  Google
A bridge has collapsed in Genoa, Italy. Picture: Google

The bridge was undergoing maintenance, the company in charge of Italian highways, Autostrade, said in a statement on Tuesday.

"The Morandi Bridge "dates back to the 1960s" and "maintenance works were underway to consolidate it," Autostrade said.

The statement says "a bridge-crane was installed to allow maintenance works to be carried out".

"The work and status of the viaduct were subject to constant observation and supervision (by their Genoa division)," it read.

The company added: "The causes for the collapse will be the subject of an in-depth analysis as soon as it is possible to safely access the site."

 

Amalia Tedeschi, a firefighter, told RAI state TV at least 20 vehicles had been involved in the collapse during a sudden and violent storm in the northern port city of Genoa.At least four people have been pulled alive from vehicles in the rubble that fell into an industrial area below the bridge and were being transported by helicopter to a hospital.

Dog teams are on hand as rescue teams try and locate any survivors.

This photo released by the Italian firefighters, cars are seen among the rubble of the collapsed Morandi highway bridge in Genoa.  Picture:  AP
This photo released by the Italian firefighters, cars are seen among the rubble of the collapsed Morandi highway bridge in Genoa. Picture: AP

Ms Tedeschi said the bridge had mostly fallen on rail tracks 100 metres below, taking "cars and trucks" with it.

The Italian Transport Minister says the bridge collapse is likely to be "an immense tragedy".

Firefighters told The Associated Press that there are concerns about gas lines.

This image shows the collapsed bridge with the remaining structure in the background.
This image shows the collapsed bridge with the remaining structure in the background.

Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said some 200 firefighters were responding to the accident.

"We are following minute by minute the situation of the bridge collapse in Genoa," Mr Salvini said on Twitter.

He later reportedly said that spending on safety of Italians should come before budget constraints.

 "The more I think about the deaths in Genoa, the more I get angry," he said in a Facebook post.

"Those responsible for this disaster, with names and surnames, will have to pay, pay everything, pay dearly. "

 

The disaster occurred on a highway that connects Italy to France and other vacation resorts on the eve of a major Italian holiday, Ferragosto.

The Morandi Bridge is a main thoroughfare connecting the A10 highway that goes toward France and the A7 highway that continues north toward Milan.

ANSA said authorities suspected that a structural weakness caused the collapse.

Photos published by the ANSA news agency on its website showed a huge gulf between two sections of the highway.

Video captured the sound of a man screaming: "Oh God, oh, God."

Huge section of Highway Bridge collapses in Genoa, Italy. Picture:  Supplied
Huge section of Highway Bridge collapses in Genoa, Italy. Picture: Supplied

Other images showed a green truck that had stopped on the bridge just metres short of the gaping hole in the bridge.

The Polcevera viaduct of the A10 motorway, called the Ponte Morandi bridge, crosses the Polcevera stream in Genoa between the districts of Sampierdarena and Cornigliano.

Rescues work among the rubble of the collapsed Morandi highway bridge in Genoa, northern Italy.  Picture:  AP
Rescues work among the rubble of the collapsed Morandi highway bridge in Genoa, northern Italy. Picture: AP

The elevated road is located over a river, railroad tracks and buildings.

The bridge, designed by the engineer Riccardo Morandi, was built between 1963 and 1967 by the Italian Society for Water Pipelines.

Rescue workers at the scence of the  collapsed Morandi highway bridge in Genoa.
Rescue workers at the scence of the collapsed Morandi highway bridge in Genoa.

 


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