Europe

Italy bridge collapse: State funeral held in Genoa

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionThe families of 18 of the victims gathered to mourn at a state funeral

Thousands of mourners have attended a state funeral for the 18 victims of Tuesday's bridge collapse in Genoa.

Italian President Sergio Mattarella and PM Giuseppe Conte led the ceremony.

Local media say that the death toll from the tragedy has risen to 42. No-one else is believed missing, though rescuers warned of finding more bodies.

Some families reportedly stayed away from the state funeral, opting for private ones out of anger at the government.

The collapse of a section of the Morandi motorway bridge and the deaths of those crossing in vehicles have led to a fierce debate in Italy about the nation's infrastructure.

The company that operated the bridge has set up a fund worth millions of euros for victim's families.

Meanwhile, the government has set up a commission to examine the causes of the disaster and one member speculated on Friday that a broken cable rod was "a serious work hypothesis".

Antonio Brencich, a University of Genoa lecturer, said there were "eyewitness accounts and videos that go in this direction".

The bridge, which was constructed in the 1960s, has cables running directly from the deck to the top of the towers.

What happened at the service?

On Friday, grieving relatives gathered at the hall in Genoa where rows of coffins were laid out for Saturday's state funeral.

Family members embraced and prayed, and placed photographs and flowers on the coffins of their loved ones.

Saturday's ceremony coincided with a national day of mourning and was led by the Archbishop of Genoa, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco.

But a number of families chose not to take part and are holding private burials elsewhere in Italy.

"Many do not want to take part in a showcase and I understand them," Father Mauro Brezzo, chaplain of Genoa's San Martino hospital, told Italian media.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionLuciano Goccia: "I was under the bridge when it collapsed"

One grieving mother quoted in Italian media said she held the Italian state responsible for the collapse, adding "the parade of politicians has been shameful".

Nunzia, mother of 26-year-old Gerardo Esposito, said government officials should not be seen at the victims' funerals.

Giovanni Battiloro was in the same vehicle as Mr Esposito. His father, Roberto, told Italian newspaper Il Messaggero: "We do not want farcical ceremonies.

"Our children are not a tool for public parades... it is among those who loved them that they will receive a farewell."

Other families said they simply preferred to grieve in private.

What is being done?

Giovanni Castelluci, the boss of operating company Autostrade per l'Italia, said millions of euros for victims' families would be available from Monday, through the city council.

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

He said that reports ahead of the disaster said the bridge was in good condition but a full inquiry was "the first priority".

He said the company would rebuild the bridge in eight months and do everything possible to get to the bottom of the disaster, but he declined to apologise or accept responsibility at this stage.

The BBC's James Reynolds in Genoa says Italy's populist government is also keen to show it is taking action.

Mr Conte confirmed on Friday that legal proceedings were under way to strip Autostrade of its contracts.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte (fourth from R) visited the scene of the disaster on Tuesday

In a statement, he said the company "had the obligation to look after the ordinary and extraordinary maintenance of the motorway" and had failed to do so.

Shares in Autostrade's parent company Atlantia plummeted in the aftermath of the disaster.

Mr Conte has said that in future the government would compel companies that were granted concessions for Italy's infrastructure to invest more profits in maintenance and safety.

What happened to the Morandi bridge?

The bridge is a main road in and out of Genoa, linking it to the A10 motorway and the road to France.

Shortly before noon on Tuesday, a huge section about 200m (656ft) long suddenly collapsed, falling 45m along with dozens of vehicles.

The cause of the unexpected tragedy is not yet clear. The bridge was having work done to shore up its foundations at the time, and there was also extremely heavy rainfall.

Interactive Genoa bridge collapse before and after

Italian police, August 2018

This image shows the same bridge, shattered, with one of its vertical support columns missing

Google, May 2015

An image shows the bridge as it stood in May 2015, spanning the stream below

More on this story