The Associated Press
MILAN–A bridge on a main highway linking Italy with France collapsed today in the Italian port city of Genoa during a sudden, violent storm, sending vehicles plunging 45 metres into a heap of rubble.
The city’s mayor said at least 25 people were killed, although some people were found alive in the debris.
A huge section of the Morandi Bridge fell at midday over an industrial zone–sending tons of twisted steel and concrete onto warehouses below.
Photos from the Italian news agency ANSA showed a massive gap between two sections of the bridge.
The head of Italy’s civil protection agency, Angelo Borrelli, said 30-35 cars and three heavy trucks were on the 80-metre section of the bridge that collapsed.
Hundreds of firefighters and emergency officials were searching for survivors in the rubble with heavy equipment.
Firefighters said at least two people were pulled alive from vehicles and taken by helicopter to a hospital.
Video of the collapse captured a man screaming, “Oh, God! Oh, God!” Other images showed a green truck that had stopped just short of the edge and the tires of a tractor-trailer in the rubble.
There was confusion over the exact death toll, which kept rising during the day.
Genoa Mayor Marco Bucci told Sky TG24 that the number of dead was above 25 people and that 11 injured were pulled from the rubble.
Two other officials earlier put the death toll at 22 with 13 injured, but said it was expected to rise.
Borrelli told a news conference in Rome that all the victims appeared to all have been in vehicles that fell from the bridge.
The disaster occurred on a highway that connects Italy to France, and northern cities like Milan to the beaches of Liguria.
The collapse also came on the eve of a major Italian summer holiday tomorrow called Ferragosto, which marks the religious feast of the Assumption of Mary.
It’s the high point of the Italian summer holiday season, when most cities and business are closed and Italians head to the beaches or the mountains.
That means traffic could have been heavier-than-usual on the Genoa highway.
Borrelli said highway engineers were checking other parts of the bridge and that some areas were being evacuated as a precaution.
He said they were still trying to figure out the reason for the collapse.