Rescue efforts are ongoing after the Morandi bridge in Genoa collapsed, sending dozens of vehicles plunging 45 metres onto railway tracks and buildings below.
Twelve people are reportedly still missing and there have been reports of people crying out from the debris and wreckage of the collapsed bridge.
More than 300 firefighters from across Italy are scrambling to locate any missing individuals who may still be alive after a 200-metre (655 foot) long section of the bridge crumbled. Rescuers are using sniffer dogs to help find people.
The death toll was thought to be as high as 35 in the immediate aftermath of the collapse. It is not yet known why the bridge suffered the dramatic collapse but it had buffeted by torrential rain and hundreds of people were evacuated from surrounding areas amid fears other parts of the bridge would cave in.
— CNN International (@cnni) August 14, 2018
“We’re not giving up hope, we’ve already saved a dozen people from under the rubble,” said rescue official Emanuele Giffi.
“We’re going to work round the clock until the last victim is secured.”
Police official Alessandra Bucci said rescuers still had hope more people would be found alive in the rubble.
“We need to remove all of the rubble to ascertain that all of the people have been reached,” Borrelli said.
“Operations are ongoing to extract people imprisoned below parts of the bridge and twisted metal.”
Genoa Mayor Marco Bucci said it was a “very bad time with the collapsing of the bridge which was not absolutely unexpected.”
“But we don’t know the reason,” he added.
— Daily Mail Online (@MailOnline) August 14, 2018
The cable-stayed bridge, also called the Polcavera Viaduct, was designed by Riccardo Morandi and was finished in 1968.
In the wake of the disaster, there have been reports that engineers warned officials years ago that the bridge required so much maintenance that knocking it down and building a new one would be more cost-effective than maintaining it.
Genoa bridge collapse rescue still in progress
Marcello de Angelis, of the Italian Red Cross, told the BBC that rescuers were treating the disaster like an earthquake.
“There might be the possibility of some niches being created by the rubble itself, with people being protected by the rubble,” he said.
“The units that we have sent are the units that we use during earthquakes. So it is the same sort of situation and also the risk of other collapses, obviously, is the same.”
The sudden collapse of a motorway bridge has left at least 35 people dead in northern Italy. pic.twitter.com/7XtQGdQpeE
— Channel 4 News (@Channel4News) August 14, 2018
Days of mourning for those lost in the bridge collapse
Giovanni Totti, Governor of the Liguria region, said the bridge had been an important arterial road for the entire country.
“The Morandi bridge connects three major ports in our country, used by tens, even hundreds of thousands of people. They depart from these ports on holiday. These docks receive most of our country’s imported goods. It damages the very structure of the Italian logistics system. We are expecting a very fast response from the government.”
The city of Genoa has announced two days of mourning for the tragedy on 15 and 16 August.
“My thoughts are with the people of Italy following the terrible collapse in Genoa of the Morandi Bridge. The UK stands alongside our Italian friends and allies following this tragic event.” – PM @theresa_may
— UK Prime Minister (@10DowningStreet) August 14, 2018
World leaders, including UK Prime Minister Theresa May, expressed their condolences. “My thoughts are with the people of Italy following the terrible collapse in Genoa of the Morandi Bridge. The UK stands alongside our Italian friends and allies following this tragic event,” she wrote on Twitter.