Firefighters and rescue workers attend the site of the collapsed Morandi Bridge in the port city of Genoa, Italy, on August 15 2018. Picture: REUTERS/STEFANO RELLANDINI
Firefighters and rescue workers attend the site of the collapsed Morandi Bridge in the port city of Genoa, Italy, on August 15 2018. Picture: REUTERS/STEFANO RELLANDINI

Genoa — Italy’s populist government intensified its attacks on the bridge operator it blames for the viaduct collapse that killed dozens of people in Genoa.

Rescuers picked through the rubble on Thursday on the third day of desperate efforts to find survivors.

Anger is mounting over the tragedy and the structural problems that have dogged the decades-old Morandi bridge, which buckled without warning on Tuesday, sending about 35 cars and several trucks plunging 45m on to railway tracks below along with huge concrete slabs.

The government has accused infrastructure giant Autostrade per l’Italia of failing to invest in sufficient maintenance — a claim the company denies — and said it would seek to revoke its lucrative contracts. Shares in Atlantia, the holding company of Autostrade, slumped more than 21% on Thursday in the wake of the barrage of criticism.

Interior minister Matteo Salvini demanded that the company offer up to €500m to help families and local government deal with the aftermath of the disaster. "If we’ve put up €5m, they should offer €500m," he told reporters. "There needs to be an immediate, concrete and tangible signal for these families: they should put their hands on their hearts and in their wallets."

With people still missing under huge piles of concrete, rescue workers clambered across the rubble hoping to find survivors. Fire official Emanuele Gissi said the unstable mountains of debris made the search operation dangerous.

"We are still looking for cavities that can hide people, living or not," he said, adding that the round-the-clock search had failed to find any more victims.

Cranes and bulldozers worked to help clear the site as rescuers tried to cut the biggest chunks of concrete and remove them. "Then our personnel will try to see if there are any positive signs," Gissi said.

At least 38 people were killed, according to an update by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. The dead include children aged eight, 12 and 13, while three Chileans and four French nationals are among the dead. Sixteen people were injured.

Genoa’s Morandi viaduct was completed in 1967 but has been riddled with structural problems since its construction, which has led to expensive maintenance and severe criticism from engineering experts.

Its collapse during a storm prompted the government to announce a year-long state of emergency in the region and day of mourning on Saturday.

AFP

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