Saturday, 28 November 2020

Italy buries bridge collapse dead as outrage simmers

ROME: Italy will hold a state funeral service Saturday to commemorate dozens of people killed in Genoa’s bridge disaster, as some outraged relatives vowed to shun official ceremonies and rescuers pulled more bodies from the wreckage.

The service, which coincides with a national day of mourning, came as firefighters still searching for five missing people discovered a car with human remains inside.

The Civil Protection authorities did not comment on the number of victims but local media reported a family of three were discovered, including a nine-year-old girl, adding to the death toll of 38.

The populist government has blamed the operator of the viaduct for Tuesday’s collapse in the northern port city and threatened to strip the firm of its contracts.

Adorned with flowers and photographs, 18 coffins — including a small white one for the youngest eight-year-old victim who died alongside his parents — lined an exhibition centre transformed into a chapel on Saturday morning, according to an AFP reporter.

Firefighters were applauded as they entered the hall ahead of the ceremony, due to begin at 11:30 am (0930 GMT.

But more than half of the families of the victims have refused to take part, some preferring a more intimate funeral while others announced a boycott.

“It is the state who has provoked this; let them not show their faces, the parade of politicians is shameful,” the press cited the mother of one of four young Italians from Naples who died.

Roberto, father of another of the dead from Naples used social media to vent his anger: “My son will not become a number in the catalogue of deaths caused by Italian failures.”

“We do not want a farce of a funeral but a ceremony at home.”
Archbishop Angelo Bagnasco, who is expected to lead the mass, expressed his respect for those who refused state funerals.

Italian President Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte are due to preside over the state funeral, which local media say will also be attended by senior staff of Autostrade per L’Italia, the managing company of the highway.

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