Genoa bridge collapse came after years of warnings

Genoa bridge collapse came after years of warnings

Italy's transport minister, Danilo Toninelli, said on Wednesday he had begun a process to fire the bridge's concession-holder, Italian motorway firm Autostrade, a unit of Atlantia group, and he demanded top Autostrade managers resign.

Among the 39 dead were three children and dozens more were injured.

Three Chileans, who live in Italy, and three French nationals were also killed, according to their respective diplomatic services.

Search operations are continuing and rescuers have spent the past few nights digging through mountains of crushed concrete.

The tragedy has focused anger on the structural problems that have dogged the decades old Morandi bridge and the private sector firm Autostrade per l'Italia, which is now in charge of operating and maintaining swathes of the country's motorways.

Conte said the government wouldn't wait until the investigation was completed to revoke the concession of a private company, Autostrade Per L'Italia, that operates numerous nation's toll highways.

"Those responsible for the Genoa tragedy have a name and surname, and are Autostrade per l'Italia", Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio wrote on Facebook, as translated by Google.

Autostrade del Italia, the privately-owned company that had the contract for maintenance of the A10 motorway, said in a statement that "work was underway to shore up the foundations of the viaduct and that, as planned, a vehicle bridge had been installed to allow maintenance activities to be carried out".

"For years it's been said that private management would be better than that of the state", Di Maio said.

More than 200 meters (650 feet) of the 1960s bridge crumpled without warning as traffic crossed the busy stretch of motorway on Tuesday, in the deadliest disaster of its kind in Europe since 2001.

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Italian President Sergio Mattarella said a "catastrophe" had hit Genoa and the whole of Italy.

The collapsed Morandi Bridge is seen in the Italian port city of Genoa, Italy, Aug. 14, 2018.

"Some people are saying maybe lightning could have struck a cable on the bridge, but at this moment it's too early to say anything about the cause".

The driver left his green lorry precariously close to the edge of the collapsed road, telling Italian media how he had escaped the "hell" of the bridge collapse. The driver of the green truck apparently had to hit his brakes because of the passing vehicle and was able to stop in time, he added. Genoa Mayor Marco Bucci said that the disaster was "not absolutely unexpected".

The highway operator said work to strengthen the road foundations of the bridge was being carried out at the time of the collapse, and the bridge was constantly monitored.

Speaking Wednesday in St. Peter's Square in Vatican City, Pope Francis expressed his sorrow at "the tragedy that occurred yesterday in Genoa" and prayed for all those affected.

In December 2012, the Genoa city council discussed the state of the bridge at a public hearing into how to expand the local transport infrastructure.

It was designed by Riccardo Morandi and completed in 1967, but restructuring work was done in 2016.

That is how an article in the specialist engineering website Ingegneri.info referred to the structure, calling it "a tragedy waiting to happen". "There was no reason to consider the bridge risky".

Conte said it had been responsible for ensuring safety on the bridge and the government would not await the outcome of a current criminal investigation into the disaster before taking action.

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