Bridge Collapse Horror: Scores Dead As Bridge Crumbles With Cars

Desperate search for survivors as the official death toll rises to 26.

Firefighters searched into the night for survivors amid the rubble of a motorway bridge that collapsed in the northern Italian port city of Genoa, killing at least 26.

While that remained the official death toll, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said from Genoa that the number would rise. The ANSA news agency reported that it could reach around 35, citing fire brigade sources.

A 50-metre high section of the bridge, including a tower that anchored several stays, crashed down with as many as 35 vehicles driving on it in torrential rain. Huge slabs of reinforced concrete plunged onto two warehouses, train tracks and a riverbed.

In its latest update, the government of the Liguria region tweeted that 19 bodies had already been identified and 15 people had been admitted to hospital, nine in a critical condition.

More than 400 people were evacuated from buildings near or below the still-standing section of the bridge. The collapse appeared not to have killed anyone beneath the bridge, only people driving over it, the civil protection agency said.

Firefighters heard voices under the rubble and pulled out seven survivors, fire official Bruno Frattasi told the state broadcaster RAI.

“We hope to find more people alive,” police official Alessandra Bucci said.

A highway bridge has partially collapsed near Genoa, Italy. Image: AAP

Within hours of the disaster, the anti-establishment government that took office in June said the collapse showed Italy needed to spend more on its dilapidated infrastructure, ignoring EU budget constraints if necessary.

“We should ask ourselves whether respecting these limits is more important than the safety of Italian citizens. Obviously for me, it is not,” said Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, head of the right-wing League, which governs with the 5-Star Movement.

'They will pay'

The government has already pledged to increase public investment and lobby the European Commission to have the extra spending excluded from EU deficit calculations.

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

“They will have to pay, pay for everything, and pay a lot,” he said.

Aerial footage showed trucks and cars stranded on either side of the 80-metre long collapsed section of the Morandi Bridge, built on the A10 toll motorway in the late 1960s. One truck was shown just metres away from the broken end of what locals called their “Brooklyn Bridge”.

Firefighters are desperately searching for survivors. Image: AAP

Motorist Alessandro Megna told RAI state radio he had been in a traffic jam and seen the collapse.

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

An official for the civil protection agency said there had been 30 cars and five to 10 trucks on the section that fell.

Rescuers recover an injured person after the Morandi highway bridge collapsed in Genoa, northern Italy. Photo: Luca Zennaro/ANSA via AP

Some 300 firefighters were working in the wreckage, using sniffer dogs to try to locate survivors, along with 400 police.

“People living in Genoa use this bridge twice a day,” said Deputy Transport Minister Edoardo Rixi, who is from the city.

“We can’t live with infrastructure built in the 1950s and 1960s.”