Highway Bridge Collapses in Genoa, Italy, Dozens Feared Dead

Several people are dead in Genoa, Italy after a highway bridge collapsed Tuesday during a rainstorm, dropping tons of concrete and steel onto buildings, streets, vehicles and railroad tracks below.

The New York Times reports that at least seven people were killed, according to deputy transport director Edoardo Rixi. Local news reports said the figure could be considerably higher, with Italian news agency ANSA quoting emergency officials as saying "tens" of people were killed.

The head of the local ambulance service was quoted by one source as saying there were "dozens of dead," reports the BBC.

Rescue efforts are underway as responders dig through rubble to try and find people in cars that fell through the collapsed section of the bridge, according to CBS News. Italy's government Transport Minister Danilo Toninelli said the collapse appeared to be an "immense tragedy."

ANSA reports around 10 vehicles are involved after a large section of the Morandi viaduct in the port city gave way amid torrential rain. The viaduct runs over shopping centers, factories, homes, the Genoa-Milan railway line and the Polcevera river, CNN reports.

An official with Italian firefighters, Amalia Tedeschi, told RAI state TV that some 20 vehicles, including cars and trucks, had been involved in the collapse. She confirmed that two people had been extracted alive from vehicles, with injuries.

The structure collapsed shortly before noon local time during heavy rain. An eyewitness told Italian public television there was a line of traffic on the bridge at the time of the collapse.

ANSA reported that a structural weakness was suspected of causing the collapse. The portion of highway that collapsed was about 200 yards long.

The bridge, built in the 1960s, had restructuring work performed on it two years ago, according to Reuters. The highway operator said work to shore up the foundation of the bridge was being carried out at the time of the collapse, adding that the bridge was constantly monitored, Reuters reports.

It's still unclear how a torrential rainstorm caused it to fall after having stood for half a century.

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