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AFP
August 14, 2018

30 dead in Italy motorway bridge collapse ´tragedy´

AFP
August 14, 2018

Genoa, Italy: About 30 people were killed on Tuesday when a giant motorway bridge collapsed in heavy rain in the Italian city of Genoa in what the government called an "immense tragedy".

The collapse, which saw a vast stretch of the A10 freeway tumble on to railway lines in the northern port city, came as the bridge was undergoing maintenance work and as the Liguria region, where Genoa is situated, experienced torrential rainfall.

"Unfortunately there are around 30 dead and many injured in a serious condition," Interior Minister Matteo Salvini told reporters.

Rescuers scouring through the wreckage, strewn among shrubland and train tracks, said there were "dozens" of victims, as rescue helicopters winched survivors on stretchers from the ruined bridge.

Cars and trucks were tangled in the rubble and nearby buildings damaged by vast chunks of concrete, according to an AFP photographer at the scene.

"We´re not giving up hope, we´ve already saved a dozen people from under the rubble," a fire official, Emanuele Giffi, told AFP.

"We´re going to work round the clock until the last victim is secured."

The incident -- the deadliest of its kind in Europe since 2001 -- is the latest in a string of bridge collapses in Italy, a country prone to damage from seismic activity but where infrastructure generally is showing the effects of a faltering economy. 

- Cars and trucks fell -

Aerial footage showed more than 200 metres (650 feet) of the viaduct, known locally as the Morandi bridge, completely destroyed.

The Italian fire service said that the bridge, located in an industrial area in the west of the city, collapsed at around noon (1000 GMT).

"I´m following with the utmost apprehension what is happening in Genoa and what looks like it could be an immense tragedy," Transport and Infrastructure minister Danilo Toninelli said on Twitter.

A fire service spokesperson told AFP that the bridge had mostly fallen on rail tracks 100 metres below and that cars and trucks had fallen with the rubble.

"Firefighters are working together and teams of rescuers and police sniffer dogs have been mobilised," emergency services said on Twitter.

- Heavy rain, maintenance work -

The cause of the disaster was not immediately clear, although weather services in the Liguria region where Genoa is situated had issued a storm warning Tuesday morning.

The national motorways body said on its website that "maintenance works were being carried out on the base of the viaduct", adding that a crane had been moved on site to assist the work.