At 11:30 am Tuesday, Aug. 14, the Morandi Bridge (Italian; Ponte Morandi), a major highway bridge in the heart of Genoa, was apparently struck by lightning and saw a sudden, complete collapse.
The 60 year bridge was carrying almost 40 passenger cars and 3 commercial trucks when a 209 meter (686 feet) section of bridge crossing the Polcevera river failed during a heavy thunderstorm, bringing all to total destruction.
50 METER CRASH
According to witnesses, during a local rainstorm that morning, a lightning bolt seemingly struck a supporting column of the bridge that caused it crumble & fail;
forcing the massive superstructure to crash 50 meters down into the rain-swollen Polcevera river; onto the Turin–Genoa railroad tracks, and burying a mostly-empty warehouse site.
Immediately after the collapse, a surreal disaster scene of twisted iron & broken concrete slabs met emergency personnel. Tonnes of debris entombed both the living and dead, with victims pinned within their crushed vehicles soaked with spilt motor fuel.
Hundreds of emergency workers & citizen volunteers scrambled to rescue the trapped victims, tend to the wounded & begin retrieving the dead.
Italy’s ANSA news agency tallies 35 lost souls from the disaster. As of midnight UTC, 12 people were still known to be missing; some of whom could be heard crying out for help from under the maze of heavy rubble and rusted iron rods.
Rescue efforts continued through Tuesday night, with officials illuminating the catastrophe with floodlight technology commonly deployed after earthquakes.
ONGOING RESCUE MISSION
Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte hailed as heroes the hundreds of rescue workers who bravely fought to save victims throughout the day Tuesday, saying that the disaster scene was shocking and a huge tragedy.
Edoardo Rixi, Italy’s deputy transportation minister, said that the Morandi bridge had shown some “signs of problems” in the past. However, Rixi was quite firm & adamant when asked if lightning could have destroyed the bridge, saying “A bridge like that doesn’t collapse because of a lightning bolt.”
At post: 31 are confirmed dead, with 15 injured and 12 still missing,with rescue operations ongoing.
© NTB scanpix / #Norway Today