Engineers, locals worried about safety of Genoa bridge before collapse

World Today

ITALY-ACCIDENT-GENOA-BRIDGE-COLLAPSERescuers inspect the rubble and wreckages by the Morandi motorway bridge after a section collapsed earlier in Genoa on August 14, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / ANDREA LEONI)

Grief is turning into anger, in Italy, where the death toll from a bridge collapse has risen to at least 39. Officials say there’s little hope of finding any more survivors.

CGTN’s Natalie Carney reports from Genoa.

Church bells echoed out across the valley, as sunrise revealed the horrors of the past day in Genoa. The collapse of the Morandi Bridge has been felt by everyone.

“We will end the operations whenever we are sure that nobody is under the rubbles anymore,” Regional Fire Chief Emmanuel Gissi said.

Previous cries for help heard from underneath the rubble have stopped, the official said, and there are no signs of life.

While more than 400 firefighters from across the country – along with a thousand other search and rescue personnel – refuse to give up, Italians are demanding answers. How could one of Europe’s major thoroughfares, linking Italy’s Rivera with Southern France, simply collapse?

“Today more than ever, the government must shed light on this tragedy, and make sure that these deaths are not forgotten,” resident Francesco Bucchieri said. “Whoever holds responsibility must pay. They can’t always put their head in the sand.”


A body is wheeled to a waiting ambulance near the Morandi motorway bridge after a section collapsed earlier in Genoa on August 14, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / FEDERICO SCOPPA)

In 2016, Italy spent $16 billion on its infrastructure, putting it in line with German expenditures. That figure dramatically dropped, however, following the global economic crisis. Expenditures have increased since then, but Italy’s transport minister says the Genoa disaster sheds light on the dilapidation of the country’s transport sector.

Private company Autostrade per l’Italia has managed the Morandi Bridge for years. One of Italy’s deputy prime ministers and its transport minister are now asking for resignations.

“It is not acceptable and those who made a mistake will have to pay until the end,” Transport Minister Danilo Toninelli said. “The first action we will obviously do is go and check the stipulated convention with Autostrade and revoke this concession, and heavily penalize those who I think have not fulfilled the clear contractual obligations regarding maintenance.”


A lorry stands on the edge of the collapsed Morandi motorway bridge in the northwestern city of Genoa on August 14, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / Valery HACHE)

The bridge – opened in 1967 – had undergone recent repairs. Yet for years, experts had voiced concerns of a tragedy waiting to happen. Fingers are now also pointing at the governing Five Star Movement for describing those warnings as “fairy tales.”

A criminal investigation has been launched, and Italy’s Prime Minster Giuseppe Conte has declared a state of emergency in the Genoa region.