With 43 dead, search ends at Genoa bridge collapse site; French bridges also at risk

Reuters, AP

The search operation for those missing after a motorway bridge collapsed in the Italian port city of Genoa ended Saturday night after the last three bodies were found, bringing the official death toll to 43.

A 200-meter-long section of the Morandi Bridge gave way in busy traffic last Tuesday, plunging vehicles and chunks of concrete and twisted metal to the ground 50 meters (165 feet) below.

After three bodies were recovered from a car crushed under slabs of concrete, the Genoa prefecture raised its official death toll. Nine people are still in hospital, four in critical condition, it said.

While all those listed as missing have now been accounted for Stefano Zanut, a fire brigade official, told Sky TG24, “Our work continues in order to have the full certainty that nobody has been left under the rubble.”

He said workers are also making the site secure and helping investigations to establish the cause of the disaster.

The viaduct was part of the A10 expressway linking the port city with the French border to the west and was managed by toll-road operator Autostrade per l’Italia, a unit of infrastructure group Atlantia.

On Saturday Autostrade pledged half a billion euros to rebuild the bridge and set up funds to immediately assist the families of the victims and those displaced from their homes by the collapse and reconstruction work.

On Friday, the government formally launched a procedure to revoke concessions held by Autostrade to operate toll highways.

In France, an audit commissioned by the government says about 840 French bridges are suffering from serious damages and at risk of eventual collapse.

President Emmanuel Macron’s government had already promised new infrastructure spending but is coming under new pressure following last week’s bridge collapse in neighboring Italy that killed 43 people.

The audit, published Sunday by the Journal du Dimanche newspaper, says of the 12,000 government-maintained bridges in France, a third need repairs and 7 percent, or about 840 bridges, present a “risk of collapse” in the coming years and may be closed down.

The audit did not address thousands of other French bridges maintained by private companies or local authorities.

Transport Minister Elisabeth Borne told broadcaster Franceinfo last week that bridge “maintenance is our priority.”