A bridge on the main highway running down the Italian Mediterranean coast in the port city of Genoa has collapsed, and reports said at least 20 people died with others trapped in the rubble.
Shares of Atlantia SpA, which runs the stretch of highway, fell almost 11 percent in Milan, the company’s biggest intraday drop since 2008.
Atlantia Chief Executive Officer Giovanni Castellucci said the company had not received any specific reports or alerts regarding the bridge’s solidity. Speaking to state-owned radio network RAI, he also said that there are “absolutely no” issues regarding the maintenance of the highway network across the country.
A police video showed the viaduct completely cut in two in a heavy rainfall. A post on Twitter from the Transport Ministry said traffic was interrupted in both directions on the A10 highway, with the incident happening near the turnoffs for the A7 highway to Milan and the Genoa airport. The heavily travelled highway is both a major route from northern to central Italy, and a bypass between Genoese neighbourhoods.
Local newspaper Secolo XIX reported at least 20 people died, and other local media said the final death toll will be higher. The Interior Ministry has officially confirmed 11 dead so far. RAI TV said rescue workers pulled two people out of the rubble alive, and numerous cars were crushed amid the
debris. News agency Ansa also reported that witnesses said they’d seen lightning hit the bridge.
Autostrade per l’Italia, the Atlantia unit that manages 3,000 kilometers of highway in Italy, said work had been underway to consolidate the viaduct, which was built in the 1960s. It said it would carry out an investigation into the causes of the collapse. The Benetton family is the biggest investor in Atlantia, which also manages highways in Brazil, Chile, India, and Brazil, and airports in Italy and France. Atlantia jointly controls Spanish toll-road operator Abertis Infraestructuras in partnership with Actividades de Construccion y Servicios SA.
The Genoa incident follows by just one week a massive accident on another Atlantia-managed Italian highway. On August 6 a tanker truck carrying a highly flammable gas exploded after rear-ending a stopped truck on a crowded highway near the northern Italian city of Bologna.
Transport Minister Danilo Toninelli said in a post on Twitter that he was on his way to Genoa, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s office said he’s following the situation and is in touch with the rescue services. Italy’s national civil protection agency said it’s holding an emergency meeting on Tuesday.