At least 35 people were killed after a bridge collapsed in the Italian port city of Genoa, with many believed to be missing in the twisted remains of the crossing.
Rescue and recovery efforts are continuing at the scene of the disaster, which occurred during a torrential downpour when the bridge was busy with people heading away for the summer Ferragosto holiday.
Italian premier Giuseppe Conte has visited the city and called the collapse of the 51-year-old bridge “a serious wound for Genoa, Liguria and Italy”.
Dozens of cars and other vehicles plunged almost 150ft when a 260ft stretch of road broke off from the 150ft high Morandi Bridge, and the cause is under investigation.
The disaster has focused attention on Italy’s ageing infrastructure, particularly its concrete bridges and viaducts built in the post-war boom of the 1950s and 1960s. There had been proposals to upgrade the 1967 bridge.
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Transport minister Danilo Toninelli has said if negligence played a role “whoever made a mistake must pay”.
Witnesses reported hearing a roar as the bridge collapsed during midday traffic as thousands of Italians headed for beaches and mountains for the holiday.
Video of the collapse, showing a misty scene of crumbled concrete, captured a man screaming: “Oh, God, oh, God.”
Civil protection authorities said at least 30 cars and three heavy vehicles were on the section of the span that collapsed in the industrial area of warehouses.
There is a huge gap where the bridge used to be, and one heart-stopping image shows a green truck halted on the road just short of the edge.
More than 300 rescue workers and dog search teams are at the scene, using heavy equipment to lift the crumbled concrete and twisted steel.
Angelo Borrelli, the head of Italy’s civil protection agency, said: “Operations are ongoing to extract people imprisoned below parts of the bridge and twisted metal.”
Officials have evacuated several hundred people living along the raised motorway that traverses the city as a precaution.