Genoa search operation ends, bridge death toll rises to 43

Genoa search operation ends, bridge death toll rises to 43

GENOA, Italy (UPDATED) - Italy will hold a state funeral service on Saturday, August 18, 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.

Large crowds packed inside an exhibition hall turned into a makeshift chapel where coffins adorned with flowers and photographs were lined up, although the families of some victims shunned the state event.

But Italian authorities have said they don't know exactly how many cars were on the collapsed section of the bridge or the number of people that were in them.

A few hours earlier, the bodies of an Italian couple and their 9-year-old daughter were found in their smashed auto under a big block of concrete, part of tons of material that crashed 150 feet to the ground and nearby areas when the heavily trafficked major highway span gave way.

Rome - Italian authorities have removed the vehicles abandoned on the surviving part of Genoa's collapsed Morandi bridge, including a green truck that managed to stop just before plunging into the void.

An imam also spoke words of remembrance for two Muslim victims of the collapse.

His presence was particularly poignant in a staunchly Catholic country, where the far-right is now in power and which has seen a rise in attacks on foreigners. Conte announced Wednesday that his government would revoke the concession from the company, while Transport Minister Danilo Toninelli called for senior managers there to resign.

Government officials were set to join a police meeting in Genoa to discuss contingency measures for the city, which has been split in two.

Espresso reporter Fabrizio Gatti told SKY TG24 that a reduction of 20 per cent strength would not be significant in a modern bridge, but on a structure with the known defects of the Morandi Bridge it should have merited swifter, more decisive action.

He also said the firm would provide funding to help relocate hundreds of people who had to be moved out of their homes after the bridge collapsed.

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Relatives of victims comforted each other as they huddled around each of the 19 caskets.

Meanwhile, Romanian man Marian Rosca, who was injured in the collapse, died in hospital. "This shouldn't have happened", Genoa resident Claudio Castellaro, 73, told AFP.

While the politicians seek answers, the first funerals have taken place for the victims.

"The initial disbelief and then the growing dimension of the catastrophe, the general bewilderment, the tumult of emotions, the pressing 'Whys?' touched us yet again and in a brutal way showed the inexorable fragility of the human condition", Bagnasco said.

The Morandi viaduct dates from the 1960s and has been riddled with structural problems for decades, leading to expensive maintenance and criticism from engineering experts.

Its collapse prompted fears over ageing infrastructure across the world.

Conte announced a 12-month state of emergency for the city of Genoa on Wednesday night and pledged €5 million, or about $5.7 million, to tackle the immediate costs of the search-and-rescue efforts.

It would include motorways, bridges and viaducts and public buildings like schools.

The company which had the contract for maintenance on the A10 motorway, Autostrade, said it would hold a news conference Saturday afternoon in Genoa.

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