Lockdown keeps casualty figure low as Italian bridge collapses

By Reuters

A bridge on a normally busy provincial road in northern Italy collapsed on Wednesday but, with virtually no traffic due to the coronavirus lockdown, there were just two casualties who suffered minor injuries.

The 260-metre bridge on the SS330 road near the town of Aulla – roughly mid-way between Genoa and Florence – collapsed at 10.25am local time.

The incident highlights the continuing poor state of repair of Italy’s road network, after the collapse of a motorway bridge in the port city of Genoa in 2018 that killed 43 people.

Helicopter views of the area of the latest collapse showed sections of the bridge crossing the river Magra had fallen to the level of the water, buckling a stretch of road behind it.

The lockdown to halt the spread of coronavirus meant that heavy midweek traffic that might normally have been using the bridge was absent, meaning only two vehicles were involved.

Emergency crews at the scene of the collapse on Wednesday
Emergency crews at the scene of the collapse on Wednesday. Photograph: Riccardo Dalle Luche/IPA/Rex/Shutterstock

Two truck drivers were taken to hospital with minor injuries, a fire brigade spokesman said.

A fire brigade team helped by dogs inspected the debris of the concrete bridge – dating to 1908 and rebuilt after the second world war – but did not find any other vehicles.

The bridge used to be managed by provincial authorities, before being put under the management of ANAS, a company controlled by the state-owned railway group, Ferrovie dello Stato.

Fire and rescue workers at the scene on Wednesday
Fire and rescue workers at the scene on Wednesday. Photograph: Vigili Del Fuoco/EPA

The infrastructure had undergone periodic safety controls since 2019, ANAS said in a statement, adding it had formed an ad-hoc group to find out the causes of the collapse.

Transport minister Paola De Micheli, who said ANAS had been operating the bridge since 2018, said the ministry had set up a committee to investigate the incident and draw up a report in 30 days.

The poor maintenance of Italy’s roads and bridges and mismanagement of its highway network has been a major political issue since the collapse of the bridge in Genoa, which was operated by infrastructure group Atlantia.