‘State of emergency’ to last a year after bridge collapse

'State of emergency' to last a year after bridge collapse

Fifteen people are injured and at least seven victims have pulled out of the rubble alive.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte declared the 12-month state of emergency as the 10,000-strong rescue team, which includes 400 firefighters, continues to work at the scene in Genoa.

A fear the remaining structure may collapse has led to the evacuation of some 630 people who live near the Morandi Bridge.

Italian prosecutors do not believe the tragedy was an accident.

They are focusing their investigation on possible design flaws or inadequate maintenance.

Genoa prosecutor Francesco Cozzi told reporters I don’t know if there is responsibility. For sure it was not an accident.

Italy’s transport minister earlier called for the top management of Autostrade per L’Italia, who managed the bridge, to quit and said its concession should be revoked.

The firm has said the CEO and chairman are not intending to resign at this stage.

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The middle of the 51-year-old bridge collapsed during a violent storm on Tuesday.

More than 30 cars and three trucks fell 150ft as the road disappeared beneath them.

The number of vehicles – and victims – could have been much higher, had it not been for reduced traffic. Tuesday was the eve of Italy’s biggest summer holiday.

Interior minister Matteo Salvini said three children – aged 8, 12 and 13 – were among the dead.

An unknown number of people are still missing.

Among the dead are a family of three who had been on holiday.

Ersilia Piccinino, her husband Roberto Robbiano and seven-year-old Samuele are believed to have died when their car plummeted to the ground.

Italian media reported that Samuele’s toys, including a Spiderman football, were found inside the wreckage of the family’s car.

Four of the victims are French, with three of them confirmed as young festival goers from Toulouse.

Two Albanians are also among the dead, as are three Chileans, who live in Italy.

On Wednesday evening, Italian officials released the names of 21 citizens whose identities have been confirmed and families informed. Their ages range from eight to 68.

Marta Danisi, 29, and her boyfriend Alberto Fanfani, 32, were among the casualties.

The Mayor of Sant’Agata di Militello, Bruno Mancuso, said on Facebook I am shocked and saddened by the terrible tragedy that struck our… young Marta Danisi, deceased following the collapse of the Morandi bridge in Genoa.

He continued to say her boyfriend who was in the car with her had also died, and that on behalf of the entire community, I express deep sorrow and closeness to family members for this great pain and emptiness that has affected them.

Summer celebrations planned in the area were suspended until 20 August as a mark of respect, he announced.

Dramatic testimony from those who escaped has emerged, including from Ivan Pesci, who told Sky News he believes his escape was a miracle.

I was basically just behind that pillar that collapsed. While I was loading the van, we felt something like a bomb going off. I don’t even know how to explain it, he said.

Straight away we looked at each other, me and my colleagues, wondering what has happened

We were covered in a lot of dust and debris. I don’t even know what it could have been.

Bridge tragedy is an economic disaster in the making 500 evacuated over fears rest of bridge may collapse

As soon as we realised, we went outside to find that unfortunately the bridge wasn’t there any more, he added.

We stood there, terrified, but thankfully the police and fire bridge arrived.

But we were certainly, I can say, more than lucky because I, 10 minutes earlier, had been passing right underneath that bridge to get in to work… and now that bridge isn’t there any more.

Reflecting on his near miss, he said I feel like a very lucky person… you see this dust everywhere and you don’t understand what could have happened – and what yet might happen because [part of] the bridge is still standing and it might come down any minute.

As well as managing the rescue efforts, two additional pressing issues facing those working to deal with the collapse are the fear that gas pipes in the area may begin to leak following the impact and that the flood-prone city may have a new crisis if the debris isn’t cleared soon.

The piles of rubble and huge sections of road lying in the dry riverbed could become a dam in a matter of hours if heavy rains hit the Mediterranean port city of 600,000.

The 1967 bridge was considered innovative at the time for its use of concrete around its cables but was long due for an upgrade. It was servicing more traffic than its designers had envisioned.

Work to upgrade the bridge with a €20m (£17.8m) project had already been approved.

Despite this, prosecutor Mr Cozzi indicated that no serious safety concerns had reached his office before the collapse on Tuesday, saying None of us would have driven over that highway 20 times a month as we do.

News Source SkyNews

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