Genoa bridge collapse: Fears that ‘creaking’ pillar could be unstable

Authorities in Genoa say they could order the remains of the Morandi Bridge demolished after creaks were heard coming from one of the pillars of the collapsed bridge.

Genoa bridge collapse: Fears that 'creaking' pillar could be unstable
Part of the collapsed Morandi Bridge in Genoa. Photo: Marco Bertorello/AFP

Firefighters reported hearing noises from the eastern pillar on Sunday night and again on Monday morning, Ansa news agency reported. 

Fears of another collapse led them to call for checks on the stability of what remains of the A10 motorway bridge. If the structure is found to present a concrete danger, local authorities said they were prepared to order its demolition.

A handful of residents evacuated from homes underneath the bridge had been allowed to return to collect possessions, but were once more ordered to clear the site out of fears for their safety. Emergency vehicles were also instructed to stay out of the so-called “red zone” around the bridge.

After rescue teams announced that all those reported missing in the disaster had now been accounted for, the investigation continues into what caused part of the bridge to give way suddenly on Tuesday afternoon, killing 43 people.


The collapse may have been due to “a series of causes” rather than the failure of a single support, investigators told the press on Monday. While the sequence of events is not yet clear, it appears the bridge was out of joint before it fell, according to Roberto Ferrazza, head of the Ministry of Infrastructure's inspection committee.

Investigators are also looking into whether a heavy overhead crane on the bridge could have caused the structure to buckle, sources told Ansa.

Italy's new government has blamed the tragedy on poor maintenance of the 50-year-old bridge, for which ministers have pointed the finger at private motorway operator Autostrade per l'Italia, as well as previous administrations and the European Union.

After threatening to revoke Autostrade's contract to manage nearly half of the country's main road network, Rome said it was considering renationalizing all Italy's motorways.

Infrastructure Minister Danilo Toninelli has commented that renationalization would be “convenient” and the coalition government is “studying” the possibility, Interior Minister Matteo Salvini told Rai 3 TV on Monday, while adding that he was in favour of a “healthy co-presence of public and private, but the public must be in charge”. 

Meanwhile several people remain in hospital and hundreds more have been displaced from their homes after Tuesday's collapse. The first 11 households were preparing to move into substitute accommodation on Monday, while some 40 others will receive new apartments in the coming weeks.

READ ALSO: Genoa bridge collapse, in pictures

Photo: Valery Hache/AFP


First cruise ship sets sail from Italy since coronavirus shutdown

The first major cruise ship to resume tours of the Mediterranean since the coronavirus pandemic hit Europe set sail from the Italian city of Genoa on Sunday, as the industry tries to regain ground after a bruising hiatus.

First cruise ship sets sail from Italy since coronavirus shutdown
A photographer watches the MSC Grandiosa depart on Sunday August 16th, 2020, after more than six months of inactivity. Photo: AFP

The departure of the MSC Grandiosa from the northwestern port city at 1930 local time represents a high-stakes test for the global sector in the key Mediterranean market and beyond.

The international cruise industry has been battered not only by the ongoing health crisis which in March forced the worldwide grounding of its ships, but accusations of a botched handling of the epidemic in its early stages.

Cruise lines are hoping that new, tighter protocols will allow them to control the still-lingering threat of coronavirus aboard its ships while still offering travellers a cruise experience that does not disappoint.

Arriving passengers preparing to check in before taking a required coronavirus blood test inside the terminal told AFP they were not concerned about the virus. Some said they believed cruises were now safer than other vacation options.

“I couldn't miss the first cruise after Covid,” cruise blogger Rosalba Scarrone, 64, told AFP.

READ ALSO: Venice anti-cruise ship activists cheer temporary victory as liners pull out

“I've taken 87 cruises, can you imagine how much I've suffered not setting off from February until now?”

The Grandiosa is part of the fleet of privately-owned MSC Cruises, founded in Naples but now based in Geneva. The ship will travel to the ports of Civitavecchia near Rome, Naples, Palermo and Valletta, Malta during the seven-day cruise.

Competitor Costa Cruises, owned by Carnival, has opted to delay the restart of its Mediterranean cruises until September, with departures from Trieste and Genoa for Italian-only clients. The company said the measure was designed to “guarantee the maximum security for guests, crew and local communities.”

Fewer passengers

Much is riding on the decision to restart cruises. Italy represents the bulk of Europe's cruise industry, reaping 14.5 billion euros of revenue per year and supporting nearly 53,000 jobs, according to the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).

The group estimated a potential economic loss from suspended cruises throughout Europe could amount to about 25.5 billion euros.

“The voyage … represents a tangible sign of comeback for one of the fundamental economic industries of our city,” said Genoa Mayor Marco Bucci.

Over 2 million cruise passengers departed from the city last year.

Last week, Italy's government, which is striving to revive the country's moribund economy after a more than two-month lockdown, gave cruise operators the green light to begin operating again as of August 15. 

MSC authorities said approximately 2,500 passengers would be on its debut cruise, limited to about 70 percent of normal capacity.

All eyes in the industry will be on the Grandiosa after a smaller cruise operator, Norway's Hurtigruten, was forced earlier this month to suspend its newly restarted service after dozens of passengers and crew tested positive for COVID-19.

Global health authorities criticised the industry's slow response to the spread of the virus at the onset of the crisis earlier this year before ships were grounded in March, from lax monitoring of crew, to continued operation of self-service buffets and gyms, to lack of personal protective equipment.

Buffet is served

As of June 11, 3,047 people were infected and 73 people died aboard 48 cruise ships affiliated with trade group Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), according to Johns Hopkins University data, provided by CLIA.

Health authorities say close living and working spaces for crew, along with partially enclosed environments contributed to greater risk of infection on cruises than other venues.

MSC has suspended the rest of its Mediterranean cruises until October save for an August 29 cruise departing from the southern Italian port of Bari.

The company said its new security protocol exceeds national and industry standards, including daily temperatures taken and escorted trips in controlled groups for excursions.

Food from the buffet, a highlight of the cruise experience, will be served at passengers' tables.