Families’ anguish still raw as Genoa bridge demolition to begin

February 7, 2019

By Antonio Denti

GENOA, Italy (Reuters) – Egle Possetti has to avert her eyes when she drives past the remains of the road bridge in Genoa as she cannot bear looking at the place where her sister was killed along with her family.

A 200-metre-long section of the Morandi bridge, part of a motorway linking the Italian port city with southern France, gave way on Aug. 14 last year in busy lunchtime traffic, sending dozens of vehicles into free-fall and killing 43 people.

On Friday, some six months later, builders will start demolishing sections of the bridge ahead of its reconstruction.

For Possetti, 53, just seeing what is left is too much.

“For us, seeing this structure broken in two every time we come is really terrible. And to think underneath 43 people lost their lives and apart from anything else, almost all of them were young people,” she told Reuters.

    Her sister Claudia, Claudia’s husband Andrea, and children Camilla, 16, and Manuele, 12, were killed. They had been heading to a resort east of Genoa for the Aug. 15 public holiday. Possetti started to fear the worst when she could not reach any of them by cellphone.

    “Every minute of your life you think about it. You may laugh, smile, but you’re dead inside,” Possetti said as she tried not to look at the ruins.

    Possetti is now part of a committee calling on Italian lawmakers to speed up judicial investigations when dealing with tragedies such as the bridge collapse.

Her despair is shared by Giovanna Donato, whose son Cesare, 11, lost his father, also called Andrea, from whom she had separated.

“I would like it morally to remain a symbol, let’s not forget that the bridge collapsed and people died. It should not have happened,” the 42-year-old said.

Marco Bucci, Genoa mayor and special commissioner for bridge reconstruction, said he was pleased with the rebuilding development so far.

“Since the afternoon of Aug. 14, when we became aware of the tragedy, we rolled up our sleeves and started working immediately. The whole city did the same,” he said. “Every time a segment of the bridge is demolished or rebuilt we prove to the citizens that this is the way things should be done.”

After the bridge collapse, the Italian government blamed operator Autostrade per l’Italia for poor maintenance of the viaduct and threatened to revoke the group’s concessions. Autostrade has denied any wrongdoing in the disaster.

The reconstruction contract has been awarded to Italy’s biggest builder Salini Impregilo and shipbuilder Fincantieri. Demolition and reconstruction of the new bridge is planned to take about 15 months.

(Reporting by Antonio Denti; Writing by Eleanor Biles and Alison Williams; Editing by Crispian Balmer and Marie-Louise Gumuchian)

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