‘Boundless pain’ as Italy mourns victims of motorway collapse
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‘Boundless pain’ as Italy mourns victims of motorway collapse

Rome: Italy has mourned those killed in the collapse of a bridge in the northern city of Genoa with a state funeral on Saturday as the country struggled to come to terms with a tragedy that government officials, families of victims and some experts say could have been prevented. But some families of the victims boycotted the event.

Flags flew at half-staff across the country on a day of national mourning. Stores shut their doors or draped black ribbons on their windows. And a solemn ceremony was held in Genoa for 19 of the victims of the August 14 collapse.

Mourners stand by a small white coffin prior to the funeral service of some of the victims of a collapsed highway bridge, in Genoa on Saturday.

Mourners stand by a small white coffin prior to the funeral service of some of the victims of a collapsed highway bridge, in Genoa on Saturday. Credit:AP

Romanian truck driver Marian Rosca, 36, who suffered severe cranial and chest injuries in the collapse died on Saturday, bringing the death toll to 43. At least three people are still missing.

Italian toll-road operator Autostrade per l'Italia has pledged to rebuild the bridge, but its chief executive stopped short of apologising for the disaster.

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Autostrade, controlled by infrastructure group Atlantia, manages the section of the A10 motorway linking Genoa to the French border where the 1.1km-long viaduct gave way in busy lunchtime traffic on Tuesday.

In a news conference in the port city, held only hours after a state funeral for many of the victims, chief executive Giovanni Castellucci voiced his deep condolences for the victims' families but declined to give an unreserved apology.

Autostrade per L'Italia presiden, Fabio Cerchiai and CEO Giovanni Castellucci  speak on Saturday.,

Autostrade per L'Italia presiden, Fabio Cerchiai and CEO Giovanni Castellucci speak on Saturday.,Credit:AP

"Apologies and responsibilities are things that are interconnected. You apologise if you feel you are responsible," he said, adding that he would wait for official investigators to determine responsibility for the collapse.

Autostrade would set aside around 500 million euros ($782 million) for disaster recovery, including funds for a new bridge and to help bereaved families and people who will have to leave their homes close to the viaduct for the reconstruction, Castellucci said.

The families of some victims shunned the funeral ceremony to protest what they saw as a country that had betrayed their loved ones by not ensuring their safety.

Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, the archbishop of Genoa who led the funeral ceremony, said in his homily that the collapse was "a wound to the heart of Genoa."

"The wound is deep, created above all by the boundless pain for those who have lost their lives and for the missing, for their family members, the injured, the many who have lost their homes," he said.

The Mass was offered in an immense pavilion that usually holds part of Genoa's trade fair, one of the city's principal commercial activities. The collapse of the bridge, a major artery connecting the eastern and western parts of the city, has put the city's economy at serious risk.

The ceremony was interrupted by applause when Bagnasco read the first name of each confirmed victim. Most were Italian, but others were Albanian, Chilean or French.

Luca Cari, a spokesman for Italy's firefighters, said their work would continue until all the rubble has been cleared. Only then would they be certain that no one else had been killed by falling debris.

New York Times, AP, Reuters