Published: Sat, August 18, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Genoa Bridge Collapse: Italian Highway Firm Receives Backlash

Genoa Bridge Collapse: Italian Highway Firm Receives Backlash

It called for a comprehensive plan to fix or replace tens of thousands of Italian bridges and viaducts built in the 1950s and 1960s, during the Italian economy's rapid growth as the nation surged back after the damage of the Second World War. Autostrade operates many of Italy's toll highways, according to The Associated Press.

"We kept going, then all of a sudden we saw lots of red lights, all the cars in front braking. Autostrade should have done maintenance and didn't do it".

Transport Minister Danilo Toninelli called on Autostrade's leadership to resign, accusing the company of putting profits ahead of safety.

"It's not possible that someone pays a toll to die", Di Maio said. "In the last five years (2012-2017) the company's investment in the security, maintenance and strengthening of the network has been over one billion euros a year", it said. The company added that its safety investments have resulted in have resulted in fewer deaths and accidents.

"It was not fate but human error", said Francesco Cozzi, the chief prosecutor in Genoa, whose office will investigate.

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A source close to the matter said Autostrade per l'Italia would hold an extraordinary board meeting next week following the disaster.

View of the buildings (top) that were evacuated in the area around the collapsed bridge on Wednesday. "The Morandi Bridge. The one above Polcevera".

Searchers have been combing through tonnes of debris since the collapse of the structure on Tuesday which left 39 people confirmed dead. Video of the collapse, showing a misty scene of crumbled concrete, captured a man screaming: "Oh, God, oh, God".

Hundreds of firefighters and emergency officials were searching for survivors in the rubble with heavy equipment. Salvini said Wednesday that the Fire Brigade had extracted the final body after working through the night.

One survivor, whose vehicle plunged from the bridge to the bottom along with falling sections of highway, told the Associated Press how as a trained firefighter he immediately understood that the structure had collapsed when the road dropped out from under him.

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As many as 20 people could still be missing in the rubble of the collapsed Morandi Bridge.

The Pope offered a prayer for the victims and their loved ones in a public address at St Peter's Basilica. Maria Luisa Catalano of the highway police in Genoa said work was ongoing, adding, "we dont know numbers of victims/injured yet".

Stefano Marigliani, a senior executive at Autostrade in charge of the part of the toll road network linking the French and Italian Rivieras that includes the bridge, told the Financial Times that the structure "was monitored constantly beyond legal requirements" and that there was "no reason to consider it unsafe".

The motorway operator said work to shore up the bridge's foundation was being carried out at the time of the collapse, during which time it was being constantly monitored.

But the government has turned on Autostrade for the disaster, threatening it with heavy fines and demanding it contributes to the bridge's reconstruction, though investigators have yet to identify the exact cause of the collapse.

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Toninelli, from the populist 5-Star Movement, threatened in a Facebook post that the state, if necessary, would take direct control of the highway contractor responsible for the bridge if it couldn't properly care for the roads and bridges it was responsible for.

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