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‘Human failure’ blamed for fatal collapse of Genoa bridge

PROSECUTOR Francesco Cozzi said today that human failure — inadequate maintenance or a design flaw — was suspected as the cause of the Genoa bridge collapse, which has killed 39 people.

“I don’t know if there is responsibility. For sure it was not an accident,” he said.

The prosecutor dismissed suggestions that the authorities had been given any warning that the bridge could be dangerous, noting: “None of us would have driven over that motorway 20 times a month as we do.”

Civil protection head Angelo Borrelli confirmed that 39 people had died and 15 were injured.

Mr Borrelli said that about 1,000 rescuers have been working since after the collapse on Tuesday to search for “any possible missing” persons.

Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said three children were among the dead. Three French citizens and two Albanians were also killed.

Immediately after the bridge’s collapse, Mr Salvini, of the far-right Lega, suggested that European Union strictures on public spending could have affected safety provisions.

Deputy Premier Luigi Di Maio blamed the bridge collapse on a lack of maintenance by the private company that operates many of the nation’s toll motorways, warning that he was looking at revoking motorway concessions.

“Instead of investing money for maintenance, they divide the profits and that is why the bridge falls,” he said of the holding company that controls Autostrade Per Italia.

Mr Di Maio, who leads the maverick Five-Star Movement party that is part of Italy’s coalition government, also took a swipe at the Benetton group, which controls Autostrade SRL through its Atlantia holding company.

He blamed previous Italian governments for turning a blind eye to the health of the nation’s toll motorways because of political contributions.

Transport and Infrastructure Minister Danilo Toninelli, also from the Five-Star Movement, threatened that the state, if necessary, would take direct control of the highway contractor responsible for the bridge if it couldn’t properly care for it.

Civil engineering society CNR is calling for a “Marshall Plan” to repair or replace tens of thousands of bridges in Italy that were built in the 1950s and 1960s with reinforced concrete.

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