THE devastation caused by a collapsed motorway bridge near the Italian city of Genoa, which killed at least 39 people on Tuesday morning, has shocked residents nearby, members of the congregation of the Anglican Church of the Holy Ghost Genoa have said.
Police and local authorities said on Wednesday that between four and 12 people were still missing in what the Italian transport minister has called an “immense tragedy”. The bodies of three children were pulled from the rubble. At least 16 people were injured.
Pope Francis said on Wednesday that he was praying for the victims. The RC Archbishop of Genoa, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, said: “Genoa is wounded but not broken. I’m sure the city will pull together and look ahead with great courage, as it always has in the past.”
Video footage suggests that one of the towers holding up the bridge collapsed in fierce winds and heavy rain, causing debris to fall almost 300 ft. in a stream and on railway tracks.
An eyewitness told news agencies that there was a queue of traffic on the bridge at the time of the collapse. Crushed cars could be seen among the rubble as rescue workers attempted to find people who might be trapped. More than 200 firefighters were brought in, and cranes could be seen removing collapsed sections of the bridge on Wednesday. Nearby buildings were also damaged.
The assistant treasurer and synod representative of the Church of the Holy Ghost, Lis Watkins Quierolo, said on Tuesday: “We are all shocked by the event.
“Luckily, Italy has a wonderful emergency system. The motorway is always very busy and built over housing, which is crazy. A migrant camp is near the place, and we were worried about some of our congregation, but they are OK.”
PAThe scene on the ground in Genoa after a section of a motorway bridge collapsed
A churchwarden, Flora Copostagno, said: “Our church family appears to be all safe, and we have received many kind messages and prayers today. Our prayers are for those victims of the collapse, and for the emergency workers and hospital staff.”
The Suffragan Bishop in Europe, the Rt Revd David Hamid, posted a message to the church on Twitter, which was retweeted by the Bishop in Europe, Dr Robert Innes: “Your brothers and sisters in Christ send our love and we pray that God, our refuge and strength, will be with you and the community and especially with those whose lives are affected by this tragedy.”
The diocese in Europe tweeted: “Join us as we pray for our sisters and brothers in Genoa, Italy, and for their Chaplain, Tony Dickinson, as they respond to the fatalities and injuries caused by the collapse of a motorway bridge within the city.”
On Wednesday, the Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte blamed a private company, Autostrade, which holds the licence to run toll motorways in the country, for failing to make-safe the bridge. “We must let people travel in safety, and there is no doubt it fell to Autostrade to perform maintenance on that viaduct.”
Reuters had previously quoted a motorway operator who had said that work had started to brace the foundation of the bridge before the collapse.
The acting general secretary of the World Council of Churches, Dr Isabel Apawo Phiri, said: “We are saddened by the images of this tragic accident, and we pray for the rescue personnel still working to save lives. For all the families and friends who have lost loved ones, be assured that you are in our prayers in this time of sorrow.”