When Bridges Collapse: The Genoa Disaster
The story of some of the people on the Polcevera Bridge on the day of its collapse, investigating what caused the bridge to fail so catastrophically.
On 14 August 2018, the Polcevera Bridge in Genoa collapsed, sending 27 vehicles plummeting to the valley below. 43 people lost their lives. It was Italy’s worst ever road-bridge disaster. This film tells the story of some of the people on the bridge that day and investigates what caused the bridge to fail so catastrophically.
The Polcevera Bridge was an icon of 1960s engineering, built by one of Italy’s most celebrated engineers, and hailed by some as a masterpiece. It formed a vital link in the main motorway between the south of France and Rome. Its failure had a huge impact on the local economy. The debris blocked railway lines for weeks, 600 people who lived under the bridge were forced to flee their homes, and lorry drivers had to make a 115km detour.
Ex-professional footballer Davide Capello, who was driving over the bridge when it collapsed, recalls his miraculous escape. "I found myself tumbling into the void. At that moment I let go of the wheel, I placed my hands behind my head, and I thought I was already dead." With many of Europe’s highways built in the same era as the Genoa bridge, this tragedy has raised questions about the maintenance of Europe’s ageing infrastructure. Are our bridges safe?