WATCH | Firefighters rescue driver dangling helplessly from collapsed bridge

15 August 2018 - 13:21 By TimesLIVE and Reuters

Italian firefighters carried out a dramatic rescue in Genoa on Tuesday after an 80-metre-long span of a motorway bridge collapsed.

Footage captured the moment the rescue workers retrieved a man who had been caught in the mangled ruins of his car, suspended in the air after the collapse of the bridge. 

The 50-year-old bridge, part of a toll motorway linking the port city of Genoa with southern France, collapsed during torrential rain, sending dozens of vehicles crashing onto a riverbed, a railway and two warehouses. At least 37 people were killed.

Eye-witness Ivan, 37, evacuated on Tuesday from the nearby building where he works, described the collapse as unbelievable. “To see a pylon come down like papier-mâché is an incredible thing,” he said. “It’s been a lifetime that we’ve known there were problems. It is in continual maintenance. In the 90s they added some reinforcements on one part, but also underneath you can see rust.”

As cranes moved in to shift truck-sized chunks of broken concrete, hundreds of firefighters searched for survivors, while public shock and grief turned to anger over the state of the 1.2 km-long bridge, completed in 1967 and overhauled two years ago.

Bridge operator Autostrade, a unit of Milan-listed Atlantia group, said it had carried out regular, sophisticated checks on the structure before the disaster and that these had provided reassuring results.

But the condition of the bridge, and its ability to sustain large increases in both the intensity and weight of traffic over the years, have been a focus of public debate since Tuesday’s collapse, when an 80-metre span gave way at lunchtime as cars packed with holidaymakers as well as trucks streamed across it.

Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said the private sector manager of the bridge had earned “billions” from tolls but “did not spend the money they were supposed to” and its concession should be revoked.

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