Rescue workers carry a body at the collapsed Morandi Bridge in the Italian port city of Genoa, Italy on Aug 14, 2018. (Photo: Reuters/Stringer)

MILAN - Agenices
At least 38 people killed in Genoa bridge collapse: Italy Deputy Prime Minister

The number of people killed when a bridge collapsed in the Italian port city of Genoa has risen to 38, Italy's Co-Deputy Prime Minister said on Wednesday (Aug 15). 

"We're currently at 38 confirmed deaths and some people missing," Salvini, who is also Interior Minister, told reporters on the sidelines of an event in the southern region of Calabria.

The victims include children aged eight, 12 and 13, he added.

Firemen worked through the night looking for any survivors buried under the rubble.

The condition of the bridge, and its ability to sustain large increases in both the intensity and weight of traffic over the years, have been a focus of public debate since Tuesday's collapse.

The new coalition government has blamed Autostrade per l'Italia, a private sector company owned by Atlantia, for the tragedy.

Italy's transport minister Danilo Toninelli said the government has begun revoking motorway concession after the bridge collapse. 

He added that a safety audit will be carried out on ageing bridges and tunnels across the country.

"The first thing that should happen is that the heads of Autostrade per l'Italia should step down. And given that there have been breaches (of contract), I announce that we have begun the process for the eventual revocation of their contract and a fine of 150 million euros (US$170 million)," he said on Facebook.

A 50m high section of the Morandi bridge, including a tower that anchored several stays, crashed down with as many as 35 vehicles driving on it on Tuesday. 

Huge slabs of reinforced concrete plunged onto two warehouses, train tracks and a riverbed. 

Deputy Premier Luigi Di Maio said the tragedy "could have been avoided", adding that those responsible for the disaster had a "name and surname".

"For years we have told ourselves that allowing private sector to manage (public assets) would be better than leaving it to the state," Di Maio, who heads the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, told Radio Radicale on Wednesday.

"Today we have one of the largest concessionaires in Europe telling us that there wasn't anything that could have led them to believe that the bridge could collapse. Autostrade should have done maintenance and didn't do it."

Within hours of the disaster, the government said the collapse showed Italy needed to spend more on its dilapidated infrastructure, ignoring EU budget constraints if necessary.

"We should ask ourselves whether respecting these limits is more important than the safety of Italian citizens. Obviously for me, it is not," said Salvini, who is also head of the right-wing League, part of the ruling coalition.

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