Sniffer dogs and cranes help rescuers at scene of Italian bridge collapse

Genoa bridge collapse

Rescue workers searched through tons of concrete and steel from the collapsed Genoa highway bridge for a fourth day on Friday as Italians prepared to bury the 38 victims of a disaster that has angered the public and rattled industry.

A fire held up part of the operation in the early morning, sending up clouds of white smoke before being extinguished.

A spark from metal-cutting equipment may have caused the blaze in a warehouse under the fallen bridge.

Despite fading hopes of finding survivors, rescue workers said they had not given up as they resumed the risky operation to search through the unstable mountains of debris.

Between 10 and 20 people may still be missing under the rubble, Genoa's chief prosecutor has told reporters.

The chance of finding survivors at this stage was slim and the unstable mountains of debris made the search operation risky, but rescue workers said they had not given up hope.

A study by engineers at Milan's Politecnico university, in November 2017, said the stays holding up the section of the bridge that later collapsed reacted to vibration "in a way that does not entirely conform with expectations and requires further investigation". Vehicles on the highway that links the port city to the French border plummeted 50 metres to the ground when a 200-metre stretch of the viaduct collapsed on Tuesday.

"We are trying to find points where we can penetrate this incredibly heavy rubble". Officials have decided the buildings will be demolished as it would be too unsafe to leave them there.


The collapse has prompted fears over other ageing infrastructure in Italy and overseas, with Bulgaria announcing Thursday a plan to renovate more than 200 bridges while France has said one in three of national road bridges are in need of fix.

The government has said alternative housing will be found, although it may take months to re-house everyone.

Coffins containing bodies of victims of the Genoa bridge collapse in Genoa, Italy, on August 17, 2018.

But some families plan to boycott the event and hold their own private services, as a sign of protest against what they say was the negligence that caused the bridge to collapse.

An engineering study commissioned by Autostrade past year warned about the condition of the stays, said Carmelo Gentile, a professor from Milan's Polytechnic university who was on the team that carried it out. The state funeral will be televised live and state broadcaster RAI said will not air any advertising as a sign of respect for the victims.

The populist government has accused infrastructure giant Autostrade per L'Italia of failing to invest in sufficient maintenance and said it would seek to revoke its lucrative contracts.

In a statement, the Ministry of Transport said it had given the company 15 days to show it had previously met all its contractual obligations to ensure the proper functioning of the bridge and avoid accidents.

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