The current death toll is expected to go up “significantly” as conflicting reports place the number of fatalities anywhere between 20 and 35. A 200-metre section of the Morandi Bridge collapsed over an industrial zone in the city of Genoa.
A bridge over an industrial area in the Italian city of Genova partially collapsed during a sudden and violent storm on Tuesday, leaving vehicles crushed in the rubble below.
At least 22 people were killed, Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte said after he travelled to the site of the disaster late Tuesday.
However, various authorities provided conflicting numbers as search and rescue work continued and some people were found alive from under the debris.
Italy’s Deputy PM Matteo Salvini said at least 30 people have died. Italian news agency ANSA placed the death toll higher; at 35, citing firefighters while another agency Adnkronos placed it at 20.
The current number of fatalities in the Morandi Bridge collapse is expected to rise “significantly,” the governor of Liguria region around Genoa shared.
“The data will be updated and we expect the toll to rise,” senior official at the country’s civil protection agency Luigi D’Angelo told reporters at a briefing.
He added that some 30 cars and between five to 10 trucks were on the road when a section of the bridge crashed down.
“It’s not acceptable that such an important bridge… was not built to avoid this kind of collapse,” Deputy Transport Minister Edoardo Rixi said on SkyNews24, speaking from Genoa.
The disaster occurred on a highway that connects Italy to France and other vacation resorts on the eve of a major Italian holiday on Wednesday, Ferragosto, and traffic would have been heavier than usual as many Italians travelled to beaches or mountains.
“I’m following with great apprehension what has happened in Genoa, which appears to be an immense tragedy,” transport minister Danilo Toninelli tweeted.
Collapse hits river, industrial zone
The section of the toll motorway that collapsed was elevated over a river and a portion of the city of Genoa.
The private broadcaster Sky TG24 said that a 200-metre section of the Morandi Bridge collapsed over an industrial zone. Firefighters said that there are concerns about gas lines.
Photos published by ANSA on its website showed a huge gulf between two sections of the bridge.
Video captured the sound of a man screaming: “Oh god, oh, god.” Other images showed a green truck that had stopped just metres (yards) short of the gaping hole in the bridge.
Salvini, who is also the interior minister, said some 200 firefighters were responding to the accident.
“We are following minute by minute the situation for the bridge collapse in Genoa,” Salvini said on Twitter.
The Morandi Bridge was inaugurated in 1967. It is 90 metres (yards) high, just over a kilometre (about three-quarters of a mile) long, with the longest section between supports measuring 200 metres (yards).
Restructuring work on the bridge was carried out in 2016. The highway operator said work to shore up the foundation of the bridge was being carried out at the time of the collapse, adding that the bridge was constantly monitored.
The bridge is a main thoroughfare connecting the A10 highway that goes toward France and the A7 highway that continues north toward Milan.
ANSA said that authorities suspected that a structural weakness caused the collapse on Tuesday.