At least 35 people killed in Genoa bridge collapse: Italian police

Canadian train travellers narrowly avoid deadly Italian bridge collapseMore

Rescue workers recover a body at the site of the collapsed Morandi Bridge in the Italian port city of Genoa, Italy.

"I was in front of the truck and flew away, like everything else".

"We can not know if there are survivors remaining, but it's our job to search", he said, adding that the rescue operation would take days.

The bridge collapse took place during one of Italy's busiest periods for holiday traffic, when families abandon cities en masse and head for the beach, including to small towns to the east and west of Genoa overlooking the Ligurian Sea.

A 50-metre high section of the bridge, including a tower that anchored several stays, crashed down with as many as 35 vehicles driving on it in torrential rain. "It was heavily used, there is no question about that", Mr Firth said.

Yesterday, specialist engineering website "Ingegneri.info" published a piece that highlighted how the bridge had always presented "structural doubts", calling it "a tragedy waiting to heppen".

"The first victims have been evacuated and now we have to search under the wreckage of buildings, but there are thousands of tonnes of concrete", he said.

Patrick Villardry, a French firefighter who came from Nice to help the rescue effort, said the task was huge.

The Italian CNR civil engineering society said that structures dating from when the Morandi Bridge was built had surpassed their lifespan. "We can't live with infrastructure built in the 1950s and 1960s".

"A major bridge like this needs regular inspection and maintenance by qualified engineers".

They cited previous accidents: a bridge that fell in April 2017 in the northern province of Cuneo, crushing a carabinieri police auto after the officers and driver had barely managed to get away in time; and an overpass that in the northern city of Lecco that collapsed under exceptional weight, crushing a vehicle and killing the driver.

The technology of pre-stressed reinforced concrete used in the construction was the hallmark of its designer, Mr Morandi, who died in 1989.

Notwithstanding the importance of a road that sees 25 million vehicles pass along it every year, the demolition of the bridge was being studied as far back as 2009.

However, Prof. Brencich did not say at the time that it was in danger of collapsing, but that it required continuous improvements and maintenance and that eventually it would have to be torn down and replaced.

Normally, a bridge is created to last for at least 100 years.

Mehdi Kashani, an associate professor in structural mechanics at the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom, said maintenance issues and pressure from "dynamic loads", such as traffic and wind, could have resulted in "fatigue damage in bridge components".

"We hope to find more people alive", police official Alessandra Bucci said. However, the bidding process for a substantial safety project for the bridge, worth $22.7 million, was set to begin soon, he said.

"I have gone over this bridge hundreds of times, and I commit to digging and finding out who is responsible for an unacceptable tragedy, because it's not possible that in 2018 you can work and die in these conditions", he said. The accident killed one person, injured dozens and blew apart a section of a raised eight-lane highway.

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