Anger grows in Italy as bridge toll hits 39

The collapsed Morandi Bridge is seen in the Italian port city of Genoa Italy

The cause of the collapse is not yet known, but many residents are calling on the head of the company that operated the bridge to resign.

Cars are blocked on the Morandi highway bridge after a section of it collapsed, in Genoa, northern Italy, Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018.

On Wednesday, officials warned that other parts of the bridge could also give way.

The incident was the deadliest of its kind in Europe since 2001 and the latest in a string of bridge collapses in Italy.

"I live nearby and I cross the bridge every day on foot", said Ibou Toure, 23, a translator.

Salvini also had harsh words for Autostrade, the private corporation responsible for maintaining the collapsed bridge, along with Co-Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio, who leads the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) which makes up the other half of Italy's populist coalition.

"We didn't hear or see anything, but after passing the bridge stopped at an Autogrill [roadside restaurant], and started to receive calls from family".

Italy's minister of transportation and infrastructure, Danilo Toninelli, said there was a plan pending to spend 20 million euro ($22.7 million) on bids for significant safety work on the bridge.

The Morandi viaduct, completed in 1967, spans dozens of railway lines as well as an industrial zone and acts as the flyover of the busy A10 motorway, which links the Italian Riviera and the south of France.

On Tuesday specialist engineering website Ingegneri.info published a piece that highlighted how the bridge had always presented "structural doubts", calling it "a tragedy waiting to happen".

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Rescuers are continuing to look for survivors after a motorway bridge collapsed in the Italian city of Genoa on Tuesday.

In 2016, Antonio Brencich of the University of Genoa's engineering faculty also sounded the alarm.

Guido De Roeck, professor emeritus at KU Leuven, a university in Belgium, told VRT news a vulnerable point of Morandi's design was the "limited number of cables, not steel cables, but pretensioned concrete cables, which are subject to corrosion".

"We can't wait on the justice system", he told reporters at a press conference in Genoa, referring to the months it will likely take to conclude an investigation into the causes of the collapse. "That bridge should have been closed before this tragedy happened".

Local authorities initially cited heavy storms as partly to blame for the disaster but on Tuesday evening Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced that authorities were working on the theory of "structural failure".

There has been anger and disbelief in Italy that such a vital structure could have simply given way.

The firm, which said the bridge had been undergoing maintenance work, however, released a statement refuting accusations of underfunding of motorway infrastructure.

And Canada's Globe and Mail reports that "mafia-related companies are known to have infiltrated the Italian cement and reconstruction industries over the decades, and prosecutors have accused them of doing shoddy work that can not withstand high stress".

It has since emerged that warnings had been issued over the bridge - which was built during a post-war construction boom by Società Italiana per Condotte d'Acqua in the 1960s - as far back as 2012.

Updating and reinforcing the bridges, CNR said, the Telegraph reported, would in many cases be more expensive than demolishing them and building new structures from scratch.

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