MILAN: Rescuers scoured the wreckage of Italy’s bridge collapse on Wednesday (Aug 15) as the death toll climbed to 39 and the government blamed the bridge’s private owner, demanding resignations and moving to strip its toll concession.
“We’re currently at 39 confirmed deaths and some people missing,” Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini told reporters on the sidelines of an event in the southern region of Calabria.
The victims include children aged eight, 12 and 13, he added.
The 50-year-old bridge, part of a toll motorway linking the port city of Genoa with southern France, collapsed during torrential rain on Tuesday, sending dozens of vehicles crashing onto a riverbed, a railway and two warehouses.
Firemen have worked through the night looking for any survivors buried under the rubble.
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-meter span gave way at lunchtime as cars packed with holidaymakers as well as trucks streamed across it.
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.
He was apparently referring to the bridge’s concession-holder, Italian motorway firm Autostrade, a unit of Atlantia group.