The Death Toll From Italy's Genoa Bridge Collapse Has Risen to 26

The Death Toll From Italy's Genoa Bridge Collapse Has Risen to 26

The company that operates and maintains the highway, along with many other roads in Italy, said in a statement Tuesday that "stabilization" work was ongoing at time of the collapse.

Interior Minister and Deputy PM Matteo Salvini said the disaster showed that Italy needed to spend more on infrastructure regardless of European Union budget constraints.

Salvini also said he wanted the "names and surnames of those who are to blame, because a tragedy like this in 2018 is not acceptable".

"If they are not able manage our highways, the state will do it", Toninelli said.

Roberto Robbiano, his wife Ersilia Piccinino and their seven-year-old son Samuele are believed to have died when their vehicle plummeted to the ground after a section of the Morandi viaduct collapsed during torrential rain on Tuesday.

A fire service spokesperson told AFP that the bridge had mostly fallen on rail tracks 100 metres below and that "cars and trucks" had fallen with the rubble.

Motorist Alessandro Megna told RAI state radio he had been in a traffic jam below the bridge and seen the collapse.

Restructuring work on the bridge was carried out in 2016. "It seemed like a scene from a film, it was the apocalypse", he added.

At least 37 people were killed, when a section of the 1,100-meter (3,600-foot) long viaduct gave way following heavy rain around midday on Tuesday.

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Emergency crews are scouring the wreckage for survivors and dead bodies following what Italian transport minister called an "immense tragedy". It called for a "Marshall Plan" to fix or replace tens of thousands of Italian bridges and viaducts built in the 1950s and 1960s.

Atlantia and Autostrade per l'Italia could not immediately be reached for comment. "The bridge was constantly monitored and supervised well beyond what the law required", Stefano Marigliani, the Autostrade official responsible for the Genoa area, told Reuters.

But the risks presented by the Morandi bridge, built between 1963 and 1967, had always been clear.

The incident - the deadliest of its kind in Europe since 2001 - is the latest in a string of bridge collapses in Italy, a country prone to damage from seismic activity but where infrastructure generally is showing the effects of a faltering economy.

The design of the elevated road had been criticised in the past.

Police footage showed firemen working to clear debris around a crushed truck, while other fireman nearby scaled some of the huge broken slabs of reinforced concrete that had supported the bridge.

Colin Caprani, senior lecturer in Structural Engineering at Monash University in Melbourne, said bridges "are not set-and-forget pieces of infrastructure", arguing that as the structures age, collapses like the Morandi bridge are likely to become more common occurrences.

This technique also characterises another, even longer and just as problematic Morandi bridge: the 8.7-kilometre long General Rafael Urdaneta Bridge that spans the bay of Maracaibo, Venezuela, and was completed in 1962.

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