Three days after the collapse of a viaduct in Genoa, Italy, the provisional record shows 39 dead, including children, and four young French. The searching continues.
The rescuers continued for a third night their search in the rubble of the highway bridge that collapsed in Genoa , northern Italy, while people are still missing.
Italy is still shocked by the disaster, and the controversy between the Italian government and the motorway management company, Autostrade per l’Italia, has intensified further.
The assessment of the collapse of a section of the Morandi bridge, which occurred late Tuesday morning, did not change in the day of Thursday: 39 dead and 15 wounded, including five in serious condition. Among the dead victims, four French.
“Ten or twenty missing persons”
The chances of finding survivors diminish by the hour, but rescuers do not give up. “We are still looking for cavities that can accommodate people, living or not,” said Emanuele Gissi, a fire chief, in the daytime.
“We try to cut the large pieces of concrete that fell off the bridge, and then we move them with the cranes and we send the search dogs, then our staff if there are any positive signs.”
Genoa’s Attorney General Francesco Cozzi told the press that “there may still be ten or twenty missing persons”.
In the night from Thursday to Friday, lit by powerful searchlights, rescuers relentlessly pursued their operations in the middle of huge blocks of concrete and pieces of twisted scrap, with the help of dogs, shovels and cranes.
“Of course, we do not stop, we work all night,” said on-site TV channel Sky TG24 a fire chief, Marcella Battaglia. “The operations are continuing with alternating teams. ”
National mourning and controversy
Italy will observe Saturday a day of national mourning and a solemn funeral ceremony will be held at 11:30 (09:30 GMT) at the Fiera di Genova, an exhibition center, in the presence of all the highest authorities of the state.
Meanwhile, the controversy between the government and Autostrade per l’Italia continues to grow. “You can not die paying the toll in Italy,” said Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio, Minister of Economic Development and leader of the 5-star Movement (M5S, populist).
The government has announced its intention to revoke the Autostrada per l’Italia concession on the section of highway where the collapsed bridge is located.
“We can not wait for criminal justice,” said the head of government, Giuseppe Conte.
“Autostrade had the duty and the obligation, the commitment, to ensure the maintenance of this viaduct and the safety of all those who travelled on it.”
The company, which belongs to the Atlantia group, itself controlled by the Benetton family, has ensured that its security checks were serious.
She also stated that a reconstruction of the bridge could “be completed within five months” once the site is accessible after the completion of research and survey reports.
Atlantia criticized a government announcement made “in the absence of any certainty about the actual causes” of the tragedy. The group warned that the dismissal would be expensive in compensation to the state. According to Italian media, this would amount to billions of euros.
The stock plunged to the Milan Stock Exchange, where it closed on a drop of 22%.
“If I had been a leader of Autostrade per l’Italia, I would have suspended some tolls, but in the hour that followed” the drama, declared the other Deputy Prime Minister, Matteo Salvini, Minister of the Interior and leader of the League (far right).
Shortly afterwards, Autostrade per l’Italia announced that ambulances would no longer pay toll on its entire network, which covers nearly half of the country’s approximately 6000 kilometers of motorway.
According to LCI , the Paris prosecutor’s office opened an investigation for “involuntary injuries” and “involuntary homicides” after the deaths of the four Frenchmen.
The European Union criticised
Another target of the Italian government: the European Union and its austerity policy, accused of preventing investments. “Investments that save lives, jobs and the right to health should not be the subject of rigid calculations and rules imposed by Europe,” Salvini said.
The European Commission reacted by saying it encouraged Italy to invest in its infrastructure and recalled that member states were “free to set” their priorities.
While the judicial investigation is underway, the Ministry of Infrastructure has announced the creation of an inspection commission to report to the minister “within 30 days” on the causes of the tragedy.
The ministry also launched a series of road condition checks and asked all infrastructure operators to report the required interventions by September 1st.
While the football championship is expected to resume this weekend, matches scheduled for Sunday from Sampdoria and Genoa, both teams from Genoa, have been postponed to a later date. For other games, players will observe a minute of silence and wear a black armband.