At least 35 people killed in Genoa bridge collapse - Italian police

The collapsed Morandi Bridge is seen in the Italian port city of Genoa

Italian firefighter work among the rubble of the collapsed Morandi highway bridge in Genoa, northern Italy. The ANSA news agency reported that it could reach around 35, citing fire brigade sources.

Up to 40 vehicles were travelling on the stretch at 11.30am when it was reportedly struck by lightning during torrential rain, causing lorries and cars to plummet 150ft as the concrete crumbled.

A huge section of the Morandi Bridge fell at midday over an industrial zone, sending tons of twisted steel and concrete onto warehouses below.

Questions remain about what caused the devastating collapse of the Morandi Bridge, although some early speculation pointed to structural weakness.

Firefighters still heard voices from under the rubble up until an hour ago, fire official Bruno Frattasi told state broadcaster RAI, saying that seven survivors had been pulled out so far.

"We should ask ourselves whether respecting these limits is more important than the safety of Italian citizens".

Mr. Salvini also said he wanted the "names and surnames of those to blame because a tragedy like this in 2018 is not acceptable".

She said it's lucky it's summer, which means less people would be using the bridge as they're on holiday.

A 50-metre-high section of the Morandi bridge, including a tower that anchored several stays, crashed down with as many as 35 vehicles driving on it on Tuesday.

There was an enormous gap where the bridge used to be, and one heart-stopping image showed a green truck halted on the rain-slickened roadway just short of the edge.

"Suddenly the bridge came down with everything it was carrying. It was really an apocalyptic scene, I couldn't believe my eyes".

Authorities said at least 30 cars and three heavy duty vehicles were on the 80-metre section of the bridge that collapsed.

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Though there were no signs of life well before nightfall, firefighters vowed not to give up the search until all hope was lost, working into the night and planning to use sniffer dogs to find those still trapped.

"I was driving to Genoa, I was on the bridge", he said. "We can't live with infrastructures built in the 1950s and 1960s".

Transportation Minister Danilo Toninelli called the collapse "an enormous tragedy", adding that if negligence played a role, "whoever made a mistake must pay".

A representative of the motorway's operator, Autostrade, told Reuters there had been "no reason to consider the bridge was dangerous".

"As this reinforced and pre-stressed concrete bridge has been there for 50 years, it is possible that corrosion of tendons or reinforcement may be a contributory factor", said Ian Firth, former president of The Institution of Structural Engineers, a London-based global network.

Autostrade said it would work with investigators, and that it was already assessing how to rebuild the bridge.

"We are following minute by minute the situation for the bridge collapse in Genoa", Salvini said on Twitter.

However, Prof. Brencich did not say at the time that it was in danger of collapsing, but that it required continuous improvements and maintenance and that eventually it would have to be torn down and replaced.

But the risks presented by the Morandi bridge, built between 1963 and 1967, had always been clear. In 2016 he spoke with "Ingegneri.info" about construction going over budget and poor calculations over concrete viscosity that led to an uneven road surface which wasn't fully corrected until the 1980s.

Firefighters and state police worked to pull survivors from the site of the deadly bridge collapse in Genoa, Italy, on August 14.

Atlantia shares closed down more than 5%.

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