Death Toll of Bridge Collapse in Northern Italy Rises to 39

Morandi bridge in Genoa, Italy – Luca Zennaro/EPA-EFE

By Vera Sordini

Rabat – Two days after part of a bridge in Genoa, Italy, collapsed, the death toll has risen to at least 39 and the search for survivors has been suspended.

The catastrophe came just after 12 noon Tuesday, August 14. The “Ponte Morandi,” named after its architect Riccardo Morandi and part of the Italian A10 motorway, fell 45 meters, taking numerous cars and trucks down with it.

According to Italian newspaper La Repubblica, 39 deaths have been confirmed up to now. Three children are among the deceased. 16 people are injured of which 9 severely.

The number of deaths could rise in the following hours and days.

Rescue operations worked through the entire night from Tuesday to Wednesday. Yesterday afternoon however, rescue workers had to temporarily stop excavating on site. The risk of collapse of another of the motorway’s pylons led to the cessation. Firefighters are now evaluating the pylon’s stability.

The area around the bridge has been isolated following the collapse and the supply of gas and electricity has been cut. At least 400 residents had to leave their houses after the disaster.

Genoa’s district attorney’s office has now opened an investigation on “culpable disaster” and “multiple culpable homicide.”

“It is still early to verify causes and responsibilities, but tragedies of this kind must not occur anymore,” Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conti stressed on Tuesday. “The whole area needs to be secured.”

Designed by Italian engineer Riccardo Morandi and built between 1963 and 1967, the collapsed viaduct crossed the Polcevera valley and was proudly dubbed the “Brooklyn Bridge” by locals.

On Tuesday, Genoa’s Mayor Marco Bucci proclaimed two days of public mourning. Pope Francis has also expressed his “spiritual vicinity” to the victims’ families. He expressed his closeness “to the hurt ones, to the evacuated ones and to all the ones that suffer due to this dramatic event.”