A bridge that collapsed killing at least 26 people in the Italian city of Genoa was almost certainly brought down by a fatal flaw in its construction or wear and tear inspectors missed, experts say. A huge 260ft section of the 50-year-old Morandi bridge gave way about 11.30am on Tuesday as the arterial highway west of the city centre was packed with cars and trucks.
Cars fell 150ft along with tonnes of twisted steel and concrete debris into a river, railroad tracks and an industrial zone below, flattening vehicles and leaving rubble embedded in buildings.
In the early 1990s, the suspension cables along the bridge had to be replaced, and further restructuring work was carried out in 2016.
In 2016, Antonio Brencich, associate professor of civil engineering at the University of Genoa warned that the Morandi Bridge’s maintenance costs ‘are so exorbitant that it would be cheaper to build a new one’.
‘Right away the bridge manifested various problems, beyond the construction costs, which went over budget,’ he wrote in 2016.
‘There are errors in this bridge. Sooner or later it will have to be replaced. I don’t know when,’ he warned.
In the article, quoted by Il Tempo, Professor Brencich says issues with the bridge being uneven and ‘semi-horizontal’ had plagued the construction since the early 1980s.
In December 2016, Genoan newspaper Il Secolo XIX claimed maintenance of bridges in the area had been lacking funds because authorities ‘preferred to allocate more funds to new works’.
The paper accused officials in the Liguria region of only making important restorations when issues with bridges had become obvious.
There were also concerns the Italian mafia could have contributed to the bridge’s collapse by their construction companies being involved in maintenance work – including shoring up the foundations.
- At least 26 dead after huge section of Morandi bridge suddenly collapsed during fierce storm in Genoa, Italy
- Cars and trucks fell 150ft at 11.30am today as one witness described the carnage as an ‘apocalyptic scene’
- Officials fear there are ‘dozens dead’ in the ‘immense tragedy’ and there are also fears of gas pipe explosions
- Bridge was built on the A10 toll motorway in northwestern Italy in the 1960s and was undergoing repairs
- Engineers said the 50-year-old bridge was felled by structural issues and not by wind or lightning
- Bridge likely had a fatal construction flaw or wear and tear corrosion issues that were missed in inspections