State of emergency declared in Italy after Genoa bridge collapse

State of emergency declared in Italy after Genoa bridge collapse

Thursday, August 16, 2018

A 12-month state of emergency has been declared in Genoa after a bridge collapsed, killing at least 39 people.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said his government will not wait until prosecutors finish investigating the collapse to remove the concession from the main private company that maintains Italy's highways.

Mr Conte led an emergency cabinet meeting in Genoa a day after the highway bridge collapsed. He called the tragedy "unacceptable in a modern society".

He said Italy will look for another company to maintain much of the nation's highway system and will demand "more stringent" rules about maintenance.

Mr Conte said: "we cannot wait for justice" and that "all citizens must travel in safety".

He also called for the swift removal of the tonnes of debris that fell in Genoa to facilitate rail travel and reduce the danger of floods.


Hopes the death toll will not rise

Interior minister Matteo Salvini declined to say how many people might still be buried in the debris where about 1,000 rescue workers are searching for victims.

The collapse occurred at about midday on Tuesday, the eve of Italy's biggest summer holiday, when traffic was particularly busy on the 51-year-old bridge that links two highways - one leading to France, the other to Milan - from this north-western port city.

Mr Salvini declined to say how many people are still missing, and added that trying to locate them was particularly difficult, due to the holiday.

He said he hoped the death toll would not rise.

Debris must also be cleared from rail tracks, a vital link especially now that Genoa is largely cut in half by the loss of such a key artery, Mr Conte said.

Authorities worried about the stability of remaining large sections of the bridge, prompting a wider evacuation order and forcing about 630 people from nearby apartments. Firefighters went inside some of the vacated apartments briefly to retrieve documents and, in at least one home, pet cats.

Building a new bridge could require demolishing the evacuated buildings, said transportation and infrastructure minister Danilo Toninelli.