Why did the Morandi Bridge collapse? - and why did the authorities not listen to the expert warnings?
The fatal construction problems that made the Morandi Bridge in Genua collapse last week did not come as a surprise to Italian experts in road safety and engineering. Already 8 years ago, voices were raised that the bridge would collapse within ten years, due to rust and other problems innate in the design - problems known by the architect since the bridge was constructed in the 60s.
Years before the fatal collapse in Genoa, many demanded improvements to the Italian road network and the Morandi bridge in particular.
"In ten years, when the bridge collapses, we will remember the names of all those who said No (to repairs) ", said Giovanni Calvini of the employers' organization Confindustria in 2012.
At least 39 people were killed, including several children, when the motorway bridge in Italian Genoa collapsed on Tuesday.
About 25 cars and trucks fell 45 meters down the railroad tracks under the bridge when the construction gave way. Up to 20 people were still on Friday believed to be buried under the concrete rubble, according to information shared with the news agency AFP.
The chance of finding survivors is decreasing all the time, but rescue workers had still not given up hope before the weekend.
"We are trying to find pockets in the rubble where people could be - alive or not," said fireman Emanuele Gissi to AFP on Friday.
The construction an "engineering fiasko"
The bridge collapse has shocked all of Italy, but everyone is not surprised that the fatal accident happened when it did. Already in 2012, Giovanni Calvini, CEO of Confindustria's local department in Genoa, raised warnings in a newspaper interview to start building new and better roads, CNN reports.
"In ten years, when the Morandi Briedge collapses and we get stuck in traffic jams for hours, we will remember the names of all those who said no", he told Il Secolo XIX.
Four years later, Antonio Brencich from the engineering faculty at Genoa University called Bronze's construction an "engineering failure". After the accident, he has developed his thoughts:
"The Morandi bridge needed constant maintenance, it had major problems with rust, which was linked to the technology Morandi himself had patented, but stopped using, and it proved to be disastrous," he said in an interview with La Repubblica.
500 million Euros in damages to the deceased families
Autostrade, the company responsible for the maintenance of the A10 motorway, including the collapsed bridge, said after the accident that the company was about to start construction work securing the foundation of the viaduct.
However, such late, after-the-fact declarations have not impressed the country's transport minister, Danilo Toninelli.
- All Autostrade's senior leaders must resign. If they can not handle the highways, the state must do that, he wrote on Facebook.
Interior Minister Matteo Salvini also demands that the company pays up to EUR 500 million to help families and local authorities after the disaster. Demands have also been raised in Italy to release funds from an emergency fund, according to AFP.
Facts: The Morandi Bridge
The Morandi Bridge was built between 1963 and 1967. It is a total of 1.18 kilometers (about 3/4 of a mile) long and is raised by pylons with a maximum height of around 90 meters / 250 feet.
The bridge design is is the famous Italian engineer Riccardo Morandi, who died in 1989.
The type of reinforced concrete used in the bridge was Morandi's own design and his patent was called "Morandi M5". The pylons, or support ports, which hold the bridge from above, are built with fortified concrete instead of bare steel wire, which is now a standard practice.
Morandi himself later abandoned the Morandi M5 standard as he allegedly could the see the problems inherent in his own design.
There are other examples of wire rope bridges with bare steel wire already in place when the Morandi Bridge was built. An example is the Swedish Strömsund Bridge, which was initiated in 1956, and is often described as the first cutting-edge cable bridge of the modern kind.
Morandi's technique was also used in an 8.7-kilometer bridge over a lake at the Maracaibo Lake in Venezuela, which was completed in 1962. This construction, too, has suffered in a serious collapse, however, caused by a ship colliding with the bridge.
Bridges designed by Morandi are also found in Libya, Colombia and Ecuador.
Source: AFP, The New York Times