WATCH: Cars plunge as highway bridge collapses in Italy; at least 25 dead
UPDATE: Tuesday 11:50 p.m.
MILAN (AP) —Italy's transport minister says the collapse of the highway bridge in Genoa was "unacceptable," and added if negligence played a role "whoever made a mistake must pay."
Minister Danilo Toninelli said the company that has the concession to operate the section of highway including the bridge said that no maintenance work was under way at the time of the collapse and that maintenance work was up to date. But Toninelli added they were about to launch a 20 million euro ($22.7 million) bidding process for significant safety work on the bridge.
Toninelli said "there has not been sufficient maintenance and checks, and safety work for many bridges and viaducts and bridges in Italy constructed, almost all, during the 1960s."
Since taking the ministry two months ago, he said he has asked for updates on the state of all bridges and viaducts in the country. Many are operated by concessions.
UPDATE: Tuesday 11:10 p.m.
MILAN (AP) — The mayor of the Italian city of Genoa says the death toll in the collapse of a highway bridge in the city has risen.
Genoa Mayor Marco Bucci told Sky TG24 that the number of dead was now above 25 people and that 11 others who were injured have been pulled from the rubble.
A huge section of the Morandi Bridge on a main highway linking Italy with France collapsed Tuesday in Genoa during a sudden, violent storm, sending vehicles plunging 45 meters (nearly 150 feet) into a heap of rubble below.
Hundreds of rescue workers with sniffer dogs are searching through the tons of rubble and twisted metal looking for more victims.
The bridge is on a key highway that connects Genoa to the eastern Liguria coastline and to France.
Note: This is a live feed of the bridge collapse in Italy and does not have english translation at this time.
UPDATE: Tuesday 9:30 a.m.
The head of Italy's civil protection agency Angelo Borrelli has put the number of victims of the Genoa bridge collapse at 20 people dead and 13 injured.
Borrelli told a press conference in Rome on Tuesday that the victims appear to all have been in vehicles that plunged from the bridge. Borrelli said that while there are two warehouses below the collapse it is believed they were closed for the summer holiday and that no one was inside. He said no residences were involved.
Borelli said that highway engineers were checking the safety of the bridge in other points, and that some areas were being evacuated as a precaution.
Earlier, Italy's deputy transport minister Edoardo Rixi said the number of victims had risen to at least 22 dead and eight injured.
MILAN (AP) — A bridge on a main highway linking Italy with France collapsed Tuesday in the Italian port city of Genoa during a sudden, violent storm, sending vehicles plunging 45 meters (nearly 150 feet) into a heap of rubble below. A transport official said at least 22 people were killed and eight injured in the tragedy.
A huge section of the Morandi Bridge collapsed over an industrial zone, sending tons of twisted steel and concrete debris onto warehouses below. Photos published by the Italian news agency ANSA showed a massive, empty gulf between two sections of the bridge.
Amalia Tedeschi, a firefighter, told RAI state TV that some 20 vehicles, including cars and trucks, were caught up as an 80-meter (260-foot) stretch of the bridge collapsed.
She said two people had been pulled alive from vehicles in the rubble. Officials said they were transported by helicopter to a hospital.
Edoardo Rixi, a transport official, told Sky TV that 22 were dead and 8 were injured in the collapse.
Video captured the sound of a man screaming: "Oh God! Oh, God!" Other images showed a green truck that had stopped just short of the gaping hole in the bridge and the tires of a tractor trailer in the rubble.
Firefighters told The Associated Press they were worried about gas lines exploding in the area from the collapse.
ANSA said authorities suspected that a structural weakness had caused the collapse, but there was no immediate explanation for what had happened.
Italy's transport minister, Danilo Toninelli, called the collapse "an enormous tragedy."
News agency ANSA said Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte will travel to Genoa later Tuesday. Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said some 200 firefighters were responding to the accident.
"We are following minute by minute the situation of the bridge collapse in Genoa," Salvini said on Twitter.
The disaster occurred on a highway that connects Italy to France, and northern cities like Milan to the beaches of Liguria.
It came on the eve of a major Italian summer holiday on Wednesday called Ferragosto, which marks the religious feast of the Assumption of Mary. The day marks the high point of the Italian summer holiday season when most cities and business are closed and Italians head to the beaches or the mountains, which means traffic was heavier than usual on the Genoa highway.
The Morandi Bridge is a main thoroughfare connecting the A10 highway that goes toward France and the A7 highway that continues north toward Milan. Inaugurated in 1967, it is 45 meters (148 feet) high, just over a kilometer (.6 miles) long.
The collapse of the bridge comes eight days after another major accident on an Italian highway, one near the northern city of Bologna.
In that case, a tanker truck carrying a highly flammable gas exploded after rear-ending a stopped truck on the road and getting hit from behind itself. The accident killed one person, injured dozens and blew apart a section of a raised eight-lane highway.