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Searches Seek Survivors Amidst Rain and Tons of Rubble in Genoa Bridge Collapse

Posted: Tuesday, August 14, 2018 – 1:59 PM

Among giant slabs of the collapsed concrete bridge which once stretched above them, hundreds of Italian rescuers pull apart debris in search of survivors.

Around 200 metres (650 feet) of the 45 metre-high bridge came crashing to the ground in large blocks — along with the cars and lorries travelling on it — in Genoa on Tuesday morning.

“We’re not giving up hope, we’ve already saved a dozen people from under the rubble,” said rescue official Emanuele Giffi.

“We’re going to work round the clock until the last victim is secured.”

Around 30 people have already been found dead and the search for survivors continues among three areas where the debris fell.

“There are buildings that have been hit but it seems that all the victim were on the bridge,” Giffi said.

Thanks to a public holiday on Wednesday, the industrial zone spanning the area below the highway was almost empty when Tuesday’s disaster struck.

– ‘Complete chaos’ –

Not far from the scene, onlookers climbed to the roof of a shopping centre to watch the procession of helicopters arrive and depart throughout the search.

“I live nearby and I cross the bridge every day on foot,” said Ibou Toure, 23, a translator. “I was never sure of it, you’d always hear these noises whenever lorries were going over.

“When I heard it had collapsed, I wasn’t surprised.”

Inside the search area, rescuers are busy with dogs, evacuating bodies on orange stretchers.

Nearby, around 15 people, some with blankets wrapped around them and crying, look on at the wreckage.

The heavy rains which greeted relief workers to begin with later gave way to better weather but the air is filled with the smell of sewage.

Patrick Villardry, a firefighter from Nice in France specialising in search and rescue missions, waited nearby with two dogs, Arco and Missile.

The pair previously helped recover a woman from an earthquake in L’Aquila, central Italy, in 2009.

“For now the Italian rescuers have told us to wait. There is complete chaos at the moment, they told us.”

But dogs used on relief missions often tire quickly, he explained, and Arco and Missile will be called up.

“For now, the first surface victims have been evacuated,” he said.

“Now they have to search under the rubble of buildings and there are thousands of tons of concrete.”

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© Agence France-Presse

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