Sunday, 18 November, 2018

Why Italian bridge collapse was ‘a tragedy waiting to happen’

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte centre visits the site Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte centre visits the site
Rhonda Young | 16 August, 2018, 11:53

Italy's government blamed the firm that operated the collapsed Genoa bridge for the disaster that has claimed at least 39 lives, as search operations entered a second night Wednesday with rescuers digging through mountains of crushed concrete. CBS2's Mary Calvi reports.

Serious questions are being raised about the state of fix of the Genoa bridge that collapsed, with the city council being told in 2012 it could fall down in 10 years.

On Wednesday morning, sources in the interior ministry quoted by Italian media estimated that the death toll had risen to 35, including three children aged from eight to 12 years old.

Investigators are also working to determine what caused a 260ft-long stretch of highway to break off from the 150ft-high bridge in the port city.

Traffic suddenly came to a standstill.

Genoa's Mayor Marco Bucci told CNN that the bridge collapse was "not absolutely unexpected", but said that he didn't know the reason as to why, nor was he aware of the renovations.

Firefighters and rescue workers stand at the site of a collapsed Morandi Bridge in the port city of Genoa, Italy August 15, 2018. At least two people have been pulled from the rubble alive, a firefighter told RAI state TV.

Some of the tons of debris that rained down from the bridge landed in a dry stream bed, while other wreckage came crashing down perilously close to apartment buildings.

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Five Star dismissed the warnings of the bridge's imminent collapse as a "fairytale" on its official website.

On Tuesday, the head of the Italian Civil Protection Agency, Angelo Borrelli, confirmed that 13 people were injured in the incident, with the number of casualties expected to grow further.

"There can not be such slaughter without guilt", said Matteo Salvini, minister of the interior, one of two deputy prime ministers and the most powerful politician in the country.

Details about those killed in the collapse are continuing to emerge, but some victims have been named. "The vehicle in front of me disappeared, it seemed like it had been eaten by the clouds". For sure it was not an accident'.

Meanwhile, Autostrade said the bridge was constantly monitored beyond legal requirements.

Autostrade was about to launch a 20 million euro ($23 million) bidding process for major safety improvements to the bridge.

The 1967 bridge, considered innovative in its time for its use of concrete around its cables, had always been due for an upgrade, especially since the structure saw more heavy traffic than its designers had envisioned.

"I was driving to Genoa, I was on the bridge", he said.

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Tens of thousands of bridges and viaducts built in the 1950s and 1960s should be repaired or replaced.

Antonio Brencich, engineer and associate professor of reinforced concrete constructions at the University of Genoa, expressed concern back in 2016.

Italian politicians, for their part, were busy pointing fingers at possible culprits.

Italian firefighters work at the collapsed Morandi highway bridge in Genoa on Tuesday.

Conte, speaking at a news conference in Genoa, said he made the declaration after a request from regional authorities. About 30 vehicles, including cars and trucks, were on the affected section when it fell 100 metres, mostly on to rail tracks, the fire service said.

Transport Minister Danilo Toninelli told Italian state television the disaster pointed to a lack of maintenance, adding that "those responsible will have to pay".

Mr Di Maio accused previous Italian governments of turning a blind eye to the upkeep of the country's motorways because of political contributions. Autostrade operates many of Italy's toll highways, according to The Associated Press.

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