Italy Declares State of Emergency After Bridge Disaster

By Tom Ozimek

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has declared a 12-month state of emergency in response to the Genoa bridge collapse that left 39 people dead.
Officials said 15 people are being treated in the hospital, nine of them in serious condition.

Conte said at a news conference that he would release an initial 5 million euros ($5.7 million) of relief funds to help the northwest Liguria region cope with the tragedy.

Situation on the Ground

Over 400 residents have already been forced from their homes and some 600 have been told to leave the 11 apartment buildings, which lie close to the bridge amid warnings of further collapses.
“I managed to get some essentials,” said area resident Carlo Mei. “We don’t live immediately under the bridge, we are about six buildings away but they evacuated us anyway. We have to get some things but we don’t know how long this will last. I hope I can return and get some other things.”

There is no word whether the inhabitants will ever be allowed back home again.

Moradi Bridge collapse in Genoa, Italy
Evacuees are escorted by firefighters after they recovered their personal belongings from their homes following the Morandi Bridge collapse. (Stefano Rellandini/Reuters)

Genoa Mayor Marco Bucci said that the buildings may be demolished if the remaining parts of the bridge are torn down, the BBC reported.

Flooding could also be a concern, as the smashed concrete in the dry river bed might block the flow of water that typically picks up in the autumn.

The bridge collapse has also severed the main land corridor connecting Genoa, one if Italy’s busiest port cities, with France and parts of the Italian Riviera, interrupting goods traffic and adding to locals’ distress.

In the valley below the shattered structure, cranes moved away chunks of debris on Thursday as rescue teams searched for survivors under the rubble.

Genoa’s chief prosecutor, Francesco Cozzi, said 10-20 people were still missing.

A state funeral for the victims will take place in Genoa on Saturday, officials said, as the coffins of some of the dead were laid out in a hospital chapel.

What Caused the Collapse?

It is unclear what caused the bridge to topple, with experts stressing that no definitive answer is possible until an investigation has run its course. Italian officials have directed heavy criticism toward the private company responsible for operating the bridge. The Genoa Public Prosecutor’s Office has opened an investigation into possible negligent homicide.

Italy motorway collapse
A rescue helicopter hovers above the site of the collapsed Morandi bridge in the port city of Genoa, Italy, on Aug. 14, 2018. (Massimo Pinca/Reuters)

Autostrade per L’Italia, the operator, said the bridge had been suffering from degradation due to heavy traffic, but insisted all inspection and maintenance work was up to date.
Company representatives said work was being done to shore up the bridge’s foundation around the time of the collapse, and they were about to launch a 20 million euro ($23 million) bidding process for safety improvements.

Civil engineering experts speculate about possible contributing factors. Some of the bridge’s design features were shown over time to have serious shortcomings. Crucial areas were highly prone to corrosion, requiring intensive inspection to keep it in check. Aesthetically pleasing due to its minimalistic design, the Morandi Bridge had little redundancy built in, elevating the impact of a single failure to potentially critical proportions.

From The Epoch Times