The 50-year-old bridge, part of a toll motorway linking the port city of Genoa with southern France, collapsed during torrential rain on Tuesday, sending dozens of vehicles crashing onto a riverbed, a railway and two warehouses. It collapsed at about 11:30 a.m. (0930 GMT) during torrential rainfall, the local fire brigade said. Italy's Transport Minister Danilo Toninelli said that the incident seemed like an "imminent tragedy".Eye-witness Ivan (37), evacuated on Tuesday from the nearby building where he works, described the collapse as unbelievable.'To see a pylon come down like papier-mâché is an incredible thing,' he said. 'It's been a lifetime that we've known there were problems. It is in continual maintenance.'
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 they were supposed to' and its concession should be revoked. He was apparently referring to Autostrade.'Imposing the highest penalties possible and making sure that those responsible for the dead and the injured pay up for any damages and crimes is the very least,' he said. The Pope offered a prayer for the victims and their loved ones in a public address at St Peter's Basilica. Fire brigade spokesman Luca Cari said 400 firefighters were at the site, lifting big chunks of concrete to create spaces for rescue teams to check for survivors. In Paris, France's foreign ministry said three French nationals were among the dead. Toninelli earlier said he had begun a process to strip Autostrade of its concession and he demanded top Autostrade managers resign.