At least 10 to 20 people still missing in Genoa bridge tragedy

Rescue workers worked among the debris

Rescue workers worked among the debris

A picture taken on August 14, 2018 shows vehicles standing on a part of a giant motorway bridge after a section collapsed earlier in Genoa.

The bridge is to be demolished and an investigation has been opened against unknown persons as the causes of the collapse are yet to be established.

Hundreds of rescuers continued their search on Wednesday after scouring the huge piles of concrete and twisted metal overnight by floodlight, hoping to find survivors. At least two people were missing.

The Italian Cabinet has approved a 12-month state of emergency for Genoa after a key highway bridge collapsed, killing at least 39 people.

The collapse came as the bridge was undergoing maintenance work while the Liguria region, where Genoa is situated, experienced torrential rainfall.

Shares in the operator of the section of motorway that collapsed in Genoa slumped as much as 24%, wiping more than €4.6bn (£4.1bn) off its value.

Building a new bridge could require razing the evacuated buildings, said Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Danilo Toninelli.

Deputy prime minister Luigi Di Maio said the tragedy "could have been avoided".

Firemen have worked through the night looking for any survivors buried under the rubble.

Firefighter Amalia Tedeschi said the bridge had mostly fallen on rail tracks below, taking "cars and trucks" with it.

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Autostrade del Italia, the privately-owned company that had the contract for maintenance of the A10 motorway, said in a statement that "work was underway to shore up the foundations of the viaduct and that, as planned, a auto bridge had been installed to allow maintenance activities to be carried out". "Autostrade had to do the maintenance and did not do it".

And 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".

"We have one of the biggest dealers in Europe that tells us that the bridge was safe and there was [no way] to imagine the collapse", Di Maio wrote.

The collapse, which saw a vast stretch of the A10 freeway tumble on to railway lines in the northern port city, was the deadliest bridge failure in Italy for years, and the country's deputy transport minister warned the death toll could climb further.

Toninelli, the transportation and infrastructure minister and another populist 5-Star leader, said his ministry had started procedures so Autostrade could be fined up to 150 million euros ($170 million).

Aerial footage showed more than 200 metres of the viaduct, known locally as the Morandi bridge, completely destroyed.

In December 2012, the Genoa city council discussed the state of the bridge at a public hearing into how to expand the local transport infrastructure. "I was never sure of it, you would always hear these noises whenever lorries were going over", he said.

The bridge has been riddled with structural problems since its construction, which has led to expensive maintenance and severe criticism from engineering experts.

The highway operator said work to strengthen the road foundations of the bridge was being carried out at the time of the collapse, and the bridge was constantly monitored.

The Italian CNR civil engineering society said structures as old as the Morandi Bridge had surpassed their lifespans.

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