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Rescuers comb concrete and steel after bridge collapse

Rescuers comb concrete and steel after bridge collapse

Rome, Aug 15 : Rescuers in Italy searched on Wednesday for a second day through tons of broken concrete and twisted steel for any more survivors and bodies after the collapse of a highway bridge in Genoa which killed at least 37 people.

The collapse of the Morandi Bridge sent dozens of cars and three trucks plunging as much as 45 meters (150 feet) on Tuesday, as many Italian families were on the roads ahead of Wednesday’s Ferragosto holiday. Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said three children were among the dead.

Rescuers continued to search through tons of concrete slabs and steel for survivors or bodies.

Meanwhile, investigators were also working to determine what caused an 80-meter (260-foot) long stretch of highway to break off from the 45-meter (150 foot) high bridge in the northwestern port city.

The 1967 bridge, considered innovative in its time for its use of concrete around its cables, was long due for an upgrade, especially since the structure was more heavily trafficked than its designers had envisioned.

While the collapse’s cause is yet to be determined, political bickering moved into high gear.

Italy’s minister of transportation and infrastructure, Danilo Toninelli, from the populist 5-Star Movement, threatened in a Facebook post that the state, if necessary, would take direct control of the highway agency if it couldn’t properly care for roads and bridge.

State radio reported Wednesday that some 5-Star lawmakers in 2013 had questioned the wisdom of an ambitious and expensive infrastructure overhaul program as possibly wasteful, but that a post about that on the Movement’s site was removed on Tuesday after the bridge’s collapse.

Within hours after the collapse, Salvini was vowing not to let European Union spending strictures on Italy, which is laden with public debt, stop any effort to make the country’s infrastructure safe.

Genoa is a flood-prone city, and officials were warning that the debris from the collapse must be removed as soon as possible. Some of the wreckage landed in a dry riverbed that could flood when the rainy season resumes in a few weeks.