(AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)

Rescue Work Goes On In Italy After Deadly Bridge Collapse

At least 39 people were killed in Tuesday's collapse, but the number still missing remains unknown.

August 16, 2018 - 5:42 am
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By PAOLO SANTALUCIA, Associated Press

GENOA, Italy (AP) — Italian rescue workers toiled for a third day Thursday in hopes of finding survivors trapped under the rubble of a collapsed highway bridge in the northern port city of Genoa.

Meanwhile, authorities announced plans for a state funeral for the victims to be held on Saturday morning in Genoa, also declaring the day one of national mourning. The ceremony will be presided over by Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, the Genoa archbishop.

At least 39 people were killed in Tuesday's collapse, but the number still missing remains unknown.

Local officials say they are taking data from people whose friends or relatives are missing, but that they do not yet know how many cars were on the bridge when it collapsed and cannot extrapolate how many people might be buried in the rubble.

"The search and rescue operations will continue until we find all those people that are listed as missing," Sonia Noci, a spokeswoman for Genoa firefighters, told The Associated Press.

A day earlier, the Italian Cabinet approved a 12-month state of emergency for the area, and Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte says his government won't wait until prosecutors finish investigating the collapse to withdraw the concession from the main private company that maintains Italy's highways, Atlantia.

The collapse occurred about midday Tuesday, the eve of Italy's biggest summer holiday, when traffic was particularly busy on the 51-year-old span that links two highways — one leading to France, the other to Milan.

A 20 million-euro ($22.7 million) project to upgrade the bridge's safety had already been approved, with public bids to be submitted by September. According to business daily Il Sole, improvement work would have involved two weight-bearing columns that support the bridge — including one that collapsed Tuesday.

The bridge, considered innovative when it opened in 1967 for its use of concrete around its cables, was long due for an upgrade, especially since it carried more traffic than its designers had envisioned.
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Colleen Barry in Milan contributed to this report.