Death toll in Italian bridge collapse climbs to 39

Rescuers worked among the rubble

Luca Zennaro ANSA Associated Press Rescuers worked among the rubble

Local officials say they are taking data from people whose friends or relatives are missing, but that they do not yet know how many cars were on the bridge when it collapsed and can not extrapolate how many people might be buried in the rubble.

Images from the scene show a huge section of the bridge missing, with vehicles perched close to the edge. Many are operated by outside contractors.

"We kept going, then all of a sudden we saw lots of red lights, all the cars in front braking". "Autostrade should've carried out maintenance and didn't".

Autostrade del Italia, the privately-owned company that had the contract for maintenance of the A10 motorway, said in a statement that "work was underway to shore up the foundations of the viaduct and that, as planned, a auto bridge had been installed to allow maintenance activities to be carried out".

He said he had begun the process of cancelling the company's contract and imposing fines of some $170 million.

Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said the private sector manager of the bridge had earned "billions" from tolls but "did not spend the money it was supposed to" and its concession should be revoked. He tweeted that those responsible will "pay dearly".

Salvatore Lorefice, 58, a pensioner who lives a few hundred metres (yards) from the bridge, said cement had fallen off the structure as early as the 1980s when he worked at a warehouse directly under the bridge.

Vehicles plummeted some 150 feet into an industrial area of the northern maritime city, some landing on a railway line and others hitting a riverbed.

Authorities anxious about the stability of remaining large sections of the bridge, prompting a wider evacuation order and forcing about 630 people from nearby apartments, some practically in the shadow of the elevated highway.

One of the bridge's central pylons crumbled around noon local time on Tuesday during a violent rainstorm.

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Atlantia's prime asset is Autostrade per l'Italia, which operates the A10 highway where a segment of the overpass collapsed on Tuesday, killing at least 39 people.

Video of the collapse captured a man screaming: "Oh, God!" Salvini said Wednesday that the Fire Brigade had extracted the final body after working through the night. They have been identified in Italian media as Roberto Robbiano, Ersilia Piccinino, and their seven-year-old son Samuel.

"A cabinet meeting took place in which we have decreed a 12-month state of emergency and made available a first allocation worth 5 million Euros for the national emergencies fund", Conte said in a news conference. Four French nationals from Occitanie are among the dead.

The death toll in the Morandi Bridge tragedy in Genoa is set to rise.

Pope Francis offered prayers for all those affected. Residents have not been allowed back into their homes and Genoa's mayor Marco Bucci said the buildings may not be protected if the surviving stretch of bridge is torn down.

Stefano Marigliani, a senior executive at Autostrade in charge of the part of the toll road network linking the French and Italian Rivieras that includes the bridge, told the Financial Times that the structure "was monitored constantly beyond legal requirements" and that there was "no reason to consider it risky".

Engineering experts, noting that the bridge was 51 years old, said corrosion and weather could have been factors in its collapse.

Italian prosecutors are focusing their investigation on possible design flaws or inadequate maintenance, with fears rising that a part of the motorway bridge which is still standing could also come crashing down.

But Wednesday, Transport Minister Danilo Toninelli, a Five Star leader, called for a "Marshall Plan" to "secure" the country's infrastructure, much of which was built in the 1960s and 1970s.

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