Italian authorities have confirmed that around 30 people have been killed following the collapse of a motorway bridge near the northern city of Genoa.
The country’s ambulance service earlier confirmed that “dozens” of people had died in the incident. Transport Minister Danilo Toninelli described Tuesday’s events as an “immense tragedy.”
The 100-meter long section of the A10 motorway in the port city collapsed Tuesday morning. Italian news agency ANSA reports that one child has been counted among the dead. At least eight people are said to be seriously wounded and the death toll is expected to rise. Approximately 20 vehicles were reportedly on the bridge at the time.
The bridge, also known as the Ponte Morandi, was built in 1968 but it underwent redevelopment work in 2016.
Writing on Facebook, Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini said his team are monitoring the situation and paid tribute to “200 Firemen (and all the other heroes) who are already working to save lives.”
News agency ANSA reports that two people have been pulled alive from the rubble and flown to a nearby hospital.
A witness told Sky Italia that he saw “eight or nine” vehicles on the bridge when it collapsed.
Eyewitness Davide Ricci told La Stampa that the bridge collapsed just 20 meters away from his car. “First the central pillar crumbled, then everything else came down,” he said, adding that he his stuck on the upstanding section of the bridge while emergency crews attend the scene.
Sonar teams and rescue dogs have reportedly joined emergency crews in the rescue effort. The collapsed section passes over the densely populated Walter Fillake neighbourhood in the Sampierdarena district of the city, leading to fears that there may be further casualties on the ground. The rescue effort was temporarily halted after a gas leak forced firefighters to evacuate the site of the collapse, according to La Repubblica.
The bridge fell into part of the offices of AMIU, an environmental group, as well as warehouses for Ansaldo Energia, one of Italy’s leading energy plants. The Ansaldo plant was closed at the time but maintenance staff remain on site.