UPDATE: On August 18, Italian officials updated the bridge collapse death toll to 43 after rescue workers pulled more bodies from the rubble.
At least 39 people were killed and others injured when a section of a giant highway bridge collapsed Tuesday, Aug. 14, in the Italian port city of Genoa.
Early reports are suggesting a structural weakness, possible maintenance issues and also the possibility that the bridge may have been struck by lightning during a sudden, violent storm. The tragedy has touched off a maelstrom in Italy over lack of funding for infrastructure and allegations that corruption played a role in poor maintenance and bridge conditions.
This video, posted to Twitter by the Italian national police force, captures the moment when the bridge collapsed.
— Polizia di Stato (@poliziadistato) August 14, 2018
The bridge on the A10 Motorway linking Italy and France fell about 11:30 a.m., taking cars and trucks with it, onto a railway line, streets and buildings more than 300 feet below. At least 35 vehicles were involved.
About 200 meters, or about 650 feet, of the bridge called Ponte Morandi fell in what’s become “an immense tragedy,” the nation’s transportation minister and other officials are saying on Italian TV.
There was a violent thunderstorm when the bridge fell, and a pillar apparently gave way, according to Italy’s state police. There are reports that the bridge, which had some problems in the past, was struck by lightning.
This is the latest in a string of bridge collapses in Italy, “a country prone to damage from seismic activity but where infrastructure generally is showing the effects of economic stagnation,” reports the Paris-based news agency Agence France Presse (AFP).
“The Morandi bridge gave way over a river bed and railway tracks in a densely inhabited area,” reports NPR’s Sylvia Poggioli. “The bridge is a viaduct that runs over shopping centers, factories, some homes, the Genoa-Milan railway line and the Polcevera River.”