Death Toll in Italy Bridge Collapse Rises to 26

The collapsed section of the A10 highway, a major east-west artery through the port city, near where the bridge crossed the Polcevera River. (Credit: Luca Zennaro/EPA, via Shutterstock)
The collapsed section of the A10 highway, a major east-west artery through the port city, near where the bridge crossed the Polcevera River. (Credit: Luca Zennaro/EPA, via Shutterstock)

A bridge in the heart of Genoa collapsed on Tuesday, killing 26 people as dozens of vehicles and tons of concrete and steel plunged onto city streets below in a disaster that prompted an emergency review of Italy’s aging infrastructure.

Adriano Scimpioni said he had just finished his shift at the city’s garbage collection company when “I heard something like an explosion and a screech of iron, and in a second we were all covered by a cloud of dust.”

Mr. Scimpioni went outside, and with his smartphone he started broadcasting the scene on Facebook.

“I immediately thought of the victims; I held my tears, with difficulty,” he said. “We were impotent, we didn’t have the means to help those who remained underneath.” He said two of his colleagues had been killed.

The highway bridge fell by as much as 148 feet just before noon, taking about three dozen cars and three trucks with it, according to Angelo Borrelli, chief of the Civil Protection Department. At least 15 people were injured, nine of them seriously.

The calamity presented a serious test of Italy’s new government, a coalition of populist parties that was formed only months ago. They rode to power on a wave of anti-establishment anger, but the coalition is led by people who had little to no experience governing, and now must demonstrate that they can manage a crisis and the scrutiny that comes with it.

Giuseppe Conte, who took over as prime minister in June, traveled to the scene of the disaster. The office of the city’s public prosecutor said it would open a criminal inquiry, examining whether the collapse was because of negligence, and federal authorities indicated that they too would investigate.

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SOURCE: Gaia Pianigiani, Elisabetta Povoledo and Richard Pérez-Peña
The New York Times