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Thirty-nine confirmed dead after Italian bridge collapse

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Three children travelling with their respective families were among the dozens killed when a bridge collapsed during torrential rain in the port city of Genoa.

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Authorities in Italy, France and Albania have confirmed their citizens are among the 39 victims of Tuesday’s highway bridge collapse.

Family of three Roberto Robbiano, 43, Ersilia Piccinino, 41, and their 9-year-old son Samuele were travelling on holiday to Sardinia when they were killed in the collapse, Italian newspaper La Stampa reported.

A family from the Turin area in northern Italy was also on its way to a holiday before they were caught up in the disaster.

The ANSA news agency identified the family as Andrea Vittone, 49, his partner Claudia Possetti, 47, and her children Manuele and Camilla Bellasio, aged 16 and 12 years old.

Other victims included 29-year-old Florence nurse Marta Danisi and her 32-year-old boyfriend, Alberto Fanfani.

Four young French friends on their way to a techno music festival were also among the dead: Melissa Artu-Bastit, her boyfriend Nathan Gusman, and friends Axelle Place and William Pouzadoux.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Wednesday declared a state of emergency covering the region around Genoa after the bridge collapse

Conte, speaking at a news conference in Genoa, he said he made the declaration after a request from regional authorities.

He also took aim at toll-road operator Autostrade, a unit of the Atlantia group, which operated the bridge as part of a stretch of the A10 motorway it manages.

Conte said the firm had been responsible for ensuring safety on the bridge and the government would not await the outcome of a current criminal investigation into the disaster before taking action.

Earlier, the transport minister said the firm’s A10 motorway concession should be revoked and it be hit with heavy fines.

When it gave way the 50-year-old bridge sent dozens of vehicles crashing onto a riverbed, a railway and two warehouses.

Eye-witness Ivan, 37, was evacuated from the nearby building where he works and 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.”

Autostrade said it had done regular, sophisticated checks on the structure before the disaster, relying on “companies and institutions which are world leaders in testing and inspections” and that these had provided reassuring results.

“These outcomes have formed the basis for maintenance work approved by the Transport Ministry in accordance with the law and the terms of the concession agreement,” it said.

The Pope offered a prayer for the victims and their loved ones in a public address at St Peter’s Basilica.

Fire brigade spokesman Luca Cari said 400 firefighters were at the site, helped by cranes that cleared away large rubble and created spaces for rescue teams to check for survivors.

– AP

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