Italy bridge collapse leaves at least 30 dead

A portion of a bridge on Highway 10 overlooking an industrial area of ​​the Italian city of Genoa collapsed this morning, leaving at least 30 dead and many seriously injured, according to the latest balance sheet provided by the Minister of the Interior, Matteo Salvini.

Unfortunately, there are about thirty confirmed deaths and many serious injuries. […] This bridge, I have passed hundreds of times, but now I will do everything to have the names of past and present leaders. It is unacceptable to die like that in Italy

Matteo Salvini, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior, in a press conference in Catania

The images broadcast on social networks and by the Italian media show that a section of the bridge, built in the 60s, has completely detached from the structure to crash on the ground. The portion that broke was about 80 meters, according to a firefighter spokesperson interviewed on the RAI airwaves.

Thirty cars and trucks on the bridge plunged about 157 feet to crash on a railway, buildings and the river Polvecera below. A civil protection officer, Angelo Borrelli, confirmed that no homes were affected.

Residents in the area told Italian media that they first thought of “an earthquake” when they heard the deafening noise. Others said they saw lightning strike the bridge just before the tragedy.

Tons of steel and cement to move

Hundreds of paramedics, firefighters and police have since gone into a race against time to rescue survivors of the tragedy that occurred as a severe storm hit the area. Heavy equipment capable of lifting pieces of the bridge was called on the scene.

Dozens of rescuers, accompanied by dogs, are busy around the remains of the bridge and the carcasses of trucks and cars crushed or entangled in the structure. Firefighters evacuate bodies on stretchers, while helicopters await the wounded.

The first surface casualties have been evacuated, now you have to search under the rubble of buildings, but there are thousands of tons of concrete.

Patrick Villardry, French fireman came to reinforcement, AFP

Debris from the viaduct has also touched the premises of a plant whose entrance is below, but only the parking seems to have been reached. The company was empty at the approach of August 15, holiday in Italy, except for the presence of a maintenance team.

I am extremely apprehensive about what happened in Genoa and which is emerging as an immense tragedy.

Danilo Toninelli, Italian Minister of Transport, on Twitter

According to Angelo Borrelli, of the civil protection agency, the approximately 200 firefighters sent on the spot were able to rescue about fifteen survivors.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said he would travel to Genoa in the evening.

An “engineering error”, according to a Genoese academic

Highway 10 connects Genoa to Ventimiglia, on the French border. Due to the rugged terrain of the region, between sea and mountains, its course is marked by tunnels and bridges. The Morandi Bridge, built between 1963 and 1967, was one of them. Resting on three piles of concrete 90 meters high, it extended over nearly 1200 meters.

The Swiss daily Le Temps reports that a professor of reinforced concrete structures at the University of Genoa’s engineering faculty, Antonio Brencich, judged in 2016 that the Morandi bridge was an “engineering error”. According to him, the viscosity of the concrete had been underestimated, which had resulted in deformations of its surface and cracking of the concrete.

Too rigid, became very expensive to maintain, the bridge had been equipped with cables in the 80s and 90s to relieve its structure. Mr. Brencich also indicated that the cost of repairs since the construction was abnormal for a bridge that should have lasted 100 years.

In an interview with Radio-Canada, Professor Bruno Massicotte of Polytechnique Montréal, for his part, pointed out that the Morandi Bridge was partly cable-stayed, as is the bridge on Highway 25, connecting Montreal to Laval, and soon the new Champlain Bridge.

“If it’s done right, there’s no risk, if there are maintenance issues or design issues, that’s where the risks can come in,” he says. remembering that the maintenance of all these works is “primordial”.

He also warns against the hypothesis already advanced that the bridge Morandi could have been a victim of a violent storm. “I imagine that if the bridge is 50 years old, it’s not the first storm he sees. […] A thunderstorm, even if it is violent, is not normally the cause of the collapse of a bridge, “he observes.

“It can be that. But if we were there, it’s because there were major problems. ”

Work was in progress

The collapsed Highway 10 motorway bridge is managed by Autostrade per Italia (ASPI), a subsidiary of the Atlantia group, which itself is controlled by a holding company owned by the Benetton family. She was quick to point out that she would collaborate in the investigation to establish the causes of the collapse.

“Consolidation work was under way on the viaduct,” commented ASPI. “The works and condition of the viaduct were subject to constant observation and vigilance. […] The causes of the collapse will be the subject of in-depth analysis as soon as it is possible to access the premises safely, “she said.

The collapse was unexpected and unpredictable. The bridge was constantly monitored, even more than what is provided by law. […] There was no reason to consider the bridge as dangerous.

Stefano Marigliani, director of ASPI in Geneva, interviewing Reuters

The Italian Transport Minister said in an interview with TV channel TG1 that “the first information would seem to indicate that the maintenance was done”. He also agreed that “these tragedies can not happen in a civilized country like Italy”, before ensuring that “those responsible will have to pay”.

The antisystem government, which has been in power in Italy since June, has, however, confirmed that Italy must spend more on infrastructure, even if it does not respect the budgetary rules set by
the European Union.

“We should ask ourselves whether compliance with these limits (of budget deficit) is more important than the security of Italians. Obviously this is not the case, “Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said.

The inhabitants of Genoa use this bridge twice a day. We can not live with infrastructure built in the 1950s or 1960s.

Edoardo Rixi, Secretary of State for Transport, SkyNews24

While waiting for the exact reasons for the collapse to be known, the title of Atlantia lost up to 10% of its value on the Milan Stock Exchange, before erasing half of its losses at closing.

Ava Russel

Ava Russel is a reporter for Herald Keepers.  After graduating from UCLA, Ava got an internship at a local radio station and worked as a beat reporter and producer.  Ava has also worked as a columnist for the Times of San Diego. Ava covers economy and community events for Herald Keepers.

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