Toll rises to 42 in Italy bridge collapse ahead of funerals

Toll rises to 42 in Italy bridge collapse ahead of funerals
Posted at 4:10 AM, Aug 18, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-18 02:45:55-04


Associated Press

GENOA, Italy (AP) - Italy's president spoke quiet words of comfort to families of many of the dead in the Genoa bridge collapse at state funeral held on the city's fair grounds.

The unofficial death toll in Tuesday's collapse rose to 42 earlier Saturday after rescuers found four bodies.

Families of 19 of the dead had their loved ones' coffins brought to a fairgrounds' pavilion for the funeral led by Genoa Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco. Among the coffins was that of an Albanian man who worked in Italy.

Other funerals on Friday saw angry mourners who blame authorities for failing to keep the bridge safe.

The collapse over a dry riverbed "lacerated the heart of Genoa," said the city's archbishop, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco. In his brief homily, he encouraged citizens to show solidarity, and said "we can build new bridges to walk together" to rise above the tragedy.

Italian RAI state radio said what was believed to be the body of the last person missing in Tuesday's collapse of the Morandi Bridge was that of a 30-year-old man.

A few hours earlier, the bodies of an Italian couple and their 9-year-old daughter were found in their smashed car under a big block of concrete, part of tons of material that crashed 45 meters (150 feet) into a dry riverbed and nearby areas when the heavily trafficked major highway span gave way. Relatives had said the family, from northern Italy, had been traveling to catch a ferry for the island of Elba while on vacation.

RAI said authorities now believe there are no more missing after an elderly German man called officials to say he wasn't involved in the disaster.

Genoa's prefect's office said it didn't immediately have official confirmation of the media reports.

Before the state funeral began, President Sergio Mattarella, head bowed, paused in silence before the coffins, then spoke briefly with each group of families.

On each coffin were names of the dead. Photographs of those who perished, flowers, and on at least one coffin, a signed soccer jersey, a small sports trophy and a stuffed animal added personal touches.

Mourners applauded firefighters, police and volunteers from the civil protection department involved in non-stop search-and-rescue efforts as they arrived for the funeral on a day of national mourning.

Also attending were Premier Giuseppe Conte and several Cabinet members, including Italy's transportation and infrastructure minister.

Investigators are working to see if a design flaw or improper maintenance might have caused the collapse on Tuesday.

Others opted for private funerals, including one a day earlier for four friends, young men in their 20s, from the southern town of Torre del Greco. At that service, relatives angrily denounced authorities for what they contend was a failure to keep the bridge safe.


Frances D'Emilio reported from Rome.

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