Highway bridge collapse kills at least 26 in Genoa, Italy

WATCH ABOVE: At least 25 dead following highway bridge collapse in Italy

A bridge on a main highway linking Italy with France collapsed Tuesday in the Italian port city of Genoa during a sudden, violent storm, sending vehicles plunging 45 meters (nearly 150 feet) into a heap of rubble below. Italian officials said at least 26 people were killed and others injured.

A huge section of the Morandi Bridge collapsed over an industrial zone, sending tons of twisted steel and concrete debris onto warehouses below. Photos published by the Italian news agency ANSA showed a massive, empty gulf between two sections of the bridge.

WATCH: A massive pile of debris and mangled vehicles is the scene of a major rescue operation in Italy, after a bridge collapsed and killed at least 20 people, including several children

The region’s updated the death toll late Tuesday on its Twitter feed, saying two more bodies had been extracted and one person had died in surgery. That brings to 15 the number of injured. The city of Genoa’s civil protection office confirmed the updated death toll.

WATCH BELOW: Aerials show extent of collapsed bridge in Italian city

Borrelli told a press conference in Rome on Tuesday that the victims appear to all have been in vehicles that plunged from the bridge.

Borrelli said that while there are two warehouses below the collapse it is believed they were closed for the summer holiday and that no one was inside. He said no residences were involved.

Matteo Salvini, Italy’s deputy prime minister, later said the numbers were around 30 dead.


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Borelli said that highway engineers were checking the safety of the bridge in other points, and that some areas were being evacuated as a precaution.

Earlier, Italy’s deputy transport minister Edoardo Rixi said the number of victims had risen to at least 22 dead and eight injured.

WATCH BELOW: Body pulled from rubble and lowered to crews below

Amalia Tedeschi, a firefighter, told RAI state TV that some 20 vehicles, including cars and trucks, were caught up as an 80-meter (260-foot) stretch of the bridge collapsed.

She said two people had been pulled alive from vehicles in the rubble. Officials said they were transported by helicopter to a hospital.

WATCH: Section of suspension bridge in Italy collapses

Video captured the sound of a man screaming: “Oh God! Oh, God!” Other images showed a green truck that had stopped just short of the gaping hole in the bridge and the tires of a tractor trailer in the rubble.

Firefighters told The Associated Press they were worried about gas lines exploding in the area from the collapse.

A large section of the Morandi viaduct upon which the A10 motorway runs collapsed in Genoa, Italy, 14 August 2018.

A large section of the Morandi viaduct upon which the A10 motorway runs collapsed in Genoa, Italy, 14 August 2018.

Luca Zennaro/EPA

ANSA said authorities suspected that a structural weakness had caused the collapse, but there was no immediate explanation for what had happened.

Italy’s transport minister, Danilo Toninelli, called the collapse “an enormous tragedy.”

News agency ANSA said Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte will travel to Genoa later Tuesday. Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said some 200 firefighters were responding to the accident.

“We are following minute by minute the situation of the bridge collapse in Genoa,” Salvini said on Twitter.

WATCH BELOW: Emergency crews respond to Italy bridge collapse

The disaster occurred on a highway that connects Italy to France, and northern cities like Milan to the beaches of Liguria.

It came on the eve of a major Italian summer holiday on Wednesday called Ferragosto, which marks the religious feast of the Assumption of Mary. The day marks the high point of the Italian summer holiday season when most cities and business are closed and Italians head to the beaches or the mountains, which means traffic was heavier than usual on the Genoa highway.

This photo released by the Italian firefighters, shows a truck stopped where the Morandi highway bridge collapsed in Genoa, Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018.

This photo released by the Italian firefighters, shows a truck stopped where the Morandi highway bridge collapsed in Genoa, Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018.

Vigili Del Fuoco via AP

The Morandi Bridge is a main thoroughfare connecting the A10 highway that goes toward France and the A7 highway that continues north toward Milan. Inaugurated in 1967, it is 45 meters (148 feet) high, just over a kilometer (.6 miles) long.

The collapse of the bridge comes eight days after another major accident on an Italian highway, one near the northern city of Bologna.

In that case, a tanker truck carrying a highly flammable gas exploded after rear-ending a stopped truck on the road and getting hit from behind itself. The accident killed one person, injured dozens and blew apart a section of a raised eight-lane highway.

With files from Reuters

© 2018 The Canadian Press

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