Italy highway bridge collapses in Genoa, at least 22 dead

20:39 | 14/08/2018
A motorway bridge collapsed on Tuesday (Aug 14) over the northern Italian port city of Genoa in what the transport minister said was likely to be "an immense tragedy".
italy highway bridge collapses in genoa at least 22 dead
A section of a giant motorway bridge in Genoa collapsed on Tuesday (Aug 14) injuring several people. (Photo: AFP)

The Italian fire service said that the viaduct, located in an industrial area in the west of the city, collapsed at around noon during torrential rainfall.

At least 22 people were kill in the collapse, Italy's deputy transport minister said.

"Unfortunately I can confirm that 22 are dead and it's a number that's likely to rise," Edoardo Rixi told TV channel Sky TG24.

Italian media reported that 200 metres (650 feet) of the "Morandi" bridge had fallen away.

The elevated road crumbled over a river, railroad tracks and buildings. The highway is a major artery to the Italian Riviera and to France's southern coast. Train services around Genoa have been halted.

A witness told Sky Italia television he saw "eight or nine" vehicles on the bridge when it collapsed in what he said was an "apocalyptic scene".

Cars and trucks were trapped in the rubble and nearby buildings damaged.

"I'm following with the utmost apprehension what is happening in Genoa and what looks like it could be an immense tragedy," transport and infrastructure minister Danilo Toninelli said on Twitter.

Italy's far-right interior minister Matteo Salvini said he was following events in Genoa "up to the minute" and thanked the emergency services for their swift response.

"Firefighters are working together and teams of rescuers and police sniffer dogs have been mobilised," emergency services said on Twitter.

Genoa is located between the sea and the mountains of northwestern Italy. Its rugged terrain means that motorways that run through the city and the surrounding area are characterised by long viaducts and tunnels.

The collapsed bridge was built on the A10 toll motorway in the 1960s. Restructuring work on the bridge was carried out in 2016.

The highway operator said work to shore up the foundation of the bridge was being carried out at the time of the collapse, adding that the bridge was constantly monitored.

One factory, immediately next to one of the viaducts support columns, was virtually empty on Tuesday due to a national holiday, and seems to have sustained minimal damage.

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Twitter that France was "by Italy's side in this tragedy and is ready to offer all necessary support".

Tuesday's incident is the latest in a string of bridge collapses in Italy, a country prone to damage from seismic activity but where infrastructure generally is showing the effects of economic stagnation.

In March last year a couple were killed when a motorway overpass collapsed on their car near Ancona on the country's Adriatic coast.

A pensioner died in October 2016 when his car was crushed by a collapsing bridge over the SS36 dual carriageway between Milan and Lecco.

That incident was blamed on bureaucratic bungling which led to a fatal delay in the bridge being closed after it was reported to be showing significant cracks.

Agencies/ AFP

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