Tragedy struck Italy on Tuesday on the eve of the country’s biggest summer holiday when a portion of a 51-year-old bridge in Genoa collapsed. It took 39 lives, left fifteen people injured while more were dug out from the rubble. Many people are reported to be missing. A storm was raging at the time and dozens of cars and a few trucks fell to the ground. Traffic on the bridge was less because of the holiday otherwise the numbers would have been higher.

Sky News reports Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has declared a state of emergency that will be in force for the whole year.

Rescue teams are on the site along with firefighters, and residents from nearby areas were evacuated to safety. There are fears that remaining portions of the bridge could also come crashing down. When there is a disaster, it is common to declare a state of emergency as was done in the case of wildfires in California.

Probable causes of the bridge collapse

In the opinion of experts, the collapse of the bridge in Genoa was not an accident. It was built in 1967 and its design was considered to be innovative at the time. The load on it had increased over the years due to more traffic, and it was overdue for an upgrade.

The investigators are examining various aspects including flaws in the basic design or inadequacy of maintenance. Genoa prosecutor Francesco Cozzi has commented to a section of the media that "I don't know if there is responsibility. For sure it was not an accident."

The administration is concentrating on clearing the rubble because there are gas pipelines in the vicinity and if these are damaged, they could leak and create a new crisis.

The rubble lying in the dry riverbed could block the flow of water if there are heavy rains.

Collapse could have been due to corrosion

According to CNN, the bridge in Genoa collapsed on a public holiday. The day is celebrated by many Catholics in Italy as the day when Mother Mary went to Heaven, but the death of 39 people is a major tragedy.

The highway that runs across the bridge is an important communication link since it connects the city with the nearby airport.

Initially, the cause was suspected to be a result of heavy storms but the authorities are now working on other theories. The firm entrusted with the maintenance of the bridge, is believed to have been carrying out maintenance work which has opened up another angle. An Italian engineer associated with the University of Genoa had expressed concerns about the bridge in 2016. He suspected corrosion problems. Incidentally, this collapse is not an isolated one in the country but one of several that have collapsed in the past five years.