Rescue mission underway after Italian bridge collapses in Genoa

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Survivors who escaped the collapse of an Italian motorway bridge in which at least 26 people died have described "apocalyptic" scenes as cars, lorries and huge chunks of concrete tumbled onto streets and railway lines below.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and key members of his cabinet are in Genoa to hold meetings and monitor rescue operations.

Fireman Davide Capello, who used to play in goal for Cagliari, was driving on a highway linking Italy with France when part of the Ponte Morandi bridge crumbled during a violent storm on Tuesday.

The Italian fire service said that the viaduct, located in an industrial area in the west of the city, collapsed at around noon.

"We should ask ourselves whether respecting these limits is more important than the safety of Italian citizens", he said.

"Unfortunately there are around 30 dead and many injured in a serious condition", Interior Minister Matteo Salvini told reporters.

Mr. Salvini also said he wanted the "names and surnames of those to blame because a tragedy like this in 2018 is not acceptable".

"If they are not able manage our highways, the state will do it", Toninelli said.

"Today we have one of the largest concessionaires in Europe telling us that there wasn't anything that could have led them to believe that the bridge could collapse".

Motorist Alessandro Megna told RAI state radio he had been in a traffic jam below the bridge and seen the collapse. "It seemed like a scene from a film, it was the apocalypse", he said. Firefighters said at least two people were pulled alive from vehicles and taken by helicopter to a hospital.

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The ANSA news agency reported Mr Capello called his father while he was stuck in his auto and told him he was safe and not to worry.

"And given that there have been breaches (of contract), I announce that we have begun the process for the eventual revocation of their contract and a fine of 150 million euros (US$170 million)", he said on Facebook. "We can't live with infrastructure built in the 1950s and 1960s".

Within hours of the disaster, the government said the collapse showed Italy needed to spend more on its dilapidated infrastructure, ignoring European Union budget constraints if necessary.

Maintenance was "underway to consolidate it", the company in charge of Italian highways, Autostrade, said in a statement on Tuesday.

Rescue teams worked through the night to recover the victims.

The design of the elevated road had been criticised in the past.

The collapse in Genoa occurred during a torrential rainstorm and left slabs of gray concrete and twisted strands of iron blanketing railroad tracks, buildings and a river bed filled with weeds and marsh grass. "But there will be a time when the cost of maintenance will be higher than a replacement", he told Italian media Primocanale. Restructuring work on the bridge was carried out in 2016.

Autostrade said it would work with investigators, and that it was already assessing how to rebuild the bridge.

A former Italian footballer had a miraculous escape when his auto wedged in rubble after plunging off a collapsed bridge in Genoa.

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