Rome: The death toll in the collapse of a bridge in the Italian city of Genoa rose to 37 even as rescuers continue to search for possible survivors, Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said on Wednesday.
In a tweet, Salvini said the figure included three children aged 8, 12 and 13, and was confirmed after emergency services carried out a search and rescue operation during the night.
A roughly 100-metre segment of the bridge collapsed on Tuesday noon during heavy rain, causing numerous vehicles to plunge to the ground. About 250 firefighters from across Italy were taking part in the search, using sniffer dogs and climbing gear.
Over 400 people were evacuated amid fears other parts of the bridge might fall. The cause of the disaster was not immediately clear but questions had been raised about the safety of the structure, the BBC reported.
Salvini vowed to bring anyone responsible for the collapse to book. The Morandi Bridge, built in the 1960s, stands on the A10 toll motorway, an important conduit for goods traffic from local ports, which also serves the Italian Riviera and southern coast of France.
Between 30 and 35 cars and three heavy vehicles were on the bridge at the time of the collapse. A huge tower and sections of the bridge fell on to railway lines, a river and a warehouse.
The car of Davide Capello, 33, a former goalkeeper for Serie A side Cagliari, came down in the collapse but he survived, according to the BBC.
“I was able to get out… I don’t know how my car wasn’t crushed. It seemed like a scene from a film, it was the apocalypse,” he said.
Italy’s Ansa news agency quoted a witness as saying they heard “an incredible roar and first we thought it was thunder very close by”.
“We live about 5 kilometre from the bridge but we heard a crazy bang… We were very scared… Traffic went completely haywire and the city was paralyzed.”
The collapse of the bridge was an “incident of vast proportions on a vital arterial road, not just for Genoa, but for the whole country”, said Liguria region Governor Giovanni Toti.