Experts knew Genoa bridge had weakened 20 per cent
Engineering experts determined in February that corrosion of the metal cables supporting the Genoa highway bridge had reduced the bridge's strength by 20 per cent, a finding that came months before it collapsed last week, Italian media reported Monday.
Despite the findings, news magazine Espresso wrote that "neither the ministry nor the highway company ever considered it necessary to limit traffic, divert heavy trucks, reduce the roadway from two to one lane or reduce the speed" of vehicles on the key artery for the northern port city.
A large section of the Morandi Bridge collapsed on August 14 during a heavy downpour, killing 43 people and forcing the evacuation of more than 600 people living in apartment buildings beneath another section of the bridge.
Overnight, workers heard creaking noises coming from the part of the bridge that was still standing, so firefighters suspended an operation allowing evacuated residents to retrieve their belongings from apartments under the bridge.
The governor of Liguria, Giovanni Toti, said checks were under way to determine what risks may be present. Work continued to clear the tons of bridge debris that cascaded on to a dry riverbed below.
"The area under the bridge is off-limits, except for extreme necessities, because the firefighters decided to further verify following the noises we had today," Toti told The Associated Press. He said a ministerial commission would decide what apartment and other buildings would eventually be demolished for a new bridge to be built.
Prosecutors investigating the bridge's collapse have said, among other things, that they are looking at possible faulty maintenance or design flaws.