Italian National Police(GENOA, Italy) — A section of a towering highway bridge collapsed in Italy Tuesday, sending cars plunging nearly 300 feet to the ground and killing at least 22 people, officials said.
The collapse of the Morandi Bridge in Genoa occurred during strong storms moving through the area of northwest Italy, according to authorities.
At least 20 vehicles were on the bridge in a port section of the city when the span gave way, Amalia Tedeschi, a firefighter, told the Italian news agency ANSA. Tedeschi said two people were pulled from the rubble alive and taken to a hospital by helicopter.
In addition to the 22 fatalities, eight people were injured, an Italian transport official told The Associated Press.
Danilo Toninelli, Italy’s transport minister, described the collapse as “an enormous tragedy.”
Several witnesses posted videos of the collapse on social media. In one video, someone can be heard screaming “oh God!” and a flash could be seen as the concrete structure crumbled.
The collapse happened on part of the viaduct on the A10 highway, the country’s national police, Polizia di Stato, said.
Witnesses said the bridge toppled after it was struck by lightning.
Italian authorities said that at the time of the collapse construction involving a crane was occurring on the bridge, but it was too early to pinpoint what caused the span to fail.
The A10 highway, the main route between northern Italy and France, was closed in both directions as search-and-rescue teams searched for survivors of the horrific incident.
Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said about 200 firefighters were on scene searching for survivors.
Part of the bridge fell on top of the Genoa Garbage Collection Depot, raising fears that the death toll will climb.
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte was traveling to the scene, officials said.
The Morandi Bridge, which opened in 1967, is about a half-mile long.
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