The alarming photo before bridge collapse that killed 39

Rescue crews at the site of the Morandi bridge disaster

Davide Capello, a former professional football player, was on a motorway bridge in Genoa in Italy when it collapsed.

She posted online to say the family had since found a hotel to stay and managed to get food and clothes from the supermarket.

Four young French friends on their way to a techno music festival were also among the dead: Melissa Artu-Bastit, her boyfriend Nathan Gusman, and friends Axelle Place and William Pouzadoux. A fourth victim was a Peruvian national, the Peruvian Ambassador to Italy Luis Iberico said via Twitter. The collapsed section was 50m high.

But Autostrade said it had done regular, sophisticated checks on the structure before the disaster, relying on "companies and institutions which are world leaders in testing and inspections" and that these had provided reassuring results.Silvia Vieri, who was on the bridge in a auto with her boyfriend when the span collapsed in front of them, told NBC News that she believes the government is at fault for not investing in the upkeep of infrastructure."They spend money on themselves, but not for the community", she said Wednesday.Vieri said her boyfriend, who is a firefighter, managed to pull three people from the rubble while they waited for help to arrive.

Teams with dogs are aiding search-and-rescue operations, but rescuers are not hearing or seeing any signs of life, he said, adding that the situation around the bridge site is still risky.

Apocalyptic images of the scene showed dozens of cars crumpled alongside smashed concrete and asphalt.

Italian prosecutors have launched a criminal investigation into the cause of the disaster.

Fifteen people were injured, authorities said.

A British couple have told of the terrifying moment they jumped from their vehicle with their two young children and ran for their lives as a bridge in Genoa, Italy, crumbled.

"I saw the green lorry in front of me stop and then reverse so I stopped too, locked the truck and ran", he told AFP.

"We were just around the bend", Nicola said.

At least two more bodies were pulled out. "Miracles can happen", he said. Rescue teams have continued working throughout the night.

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Pope Francis sent his condolences to the victims, saying the tragedy has "caused desperation among the population".

Local people said they had also expressed concerns about the structure in the past.

"We can not know if there are survivors remaining, but it's our job to search".

According to business daily Il Sole, improvement work would have involved two weight-bearing columns that support the bridge - including one that collapsed Tuesday.

Italy's transport minister called for the company management to resign and announced the government had launched a move to revoke the company's contract and hit it with a fine of 150 million euros ($170 million).

Autostrade del Italia, the privately owned company that had the contract for maintenance of the A10 motorway, said in a statement Tuesday that "work was underway to shore up the foundations of the viaduct and that, as planned, a vehicle bridge had been installed to allow maintenance activities to be carried out".

Genoa is a flood-prone city, and authorities warned that the piles in the dry riverbed could become a dam in a matter of hours if heavy rains arrive.

The issue of transport in the area is now critical, given that the bridge was a major arterial route for an important port city.

Matteo Salvini suggested that European Union fiscal rules were to blame for Tuesday's deadly bridge collapse.

Ingegneri.info said that bridges like the Morandi viaduct should have a lifespan of at least a century, but the structure has been the subject of major maintenance work in the years after its completion, in particular to fix cracks and combat degradation of the concrete.

"Many of the bridges of the developed nations are at the end of their design lives", he said. It is in continual maintenance.

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