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Italy marks one year since Genoa's Morandi bridge disaster

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Italy marks one year since Genoa's Morandi bridge disaster
Flowers left near the site of the collapsed Morandi bridge in Genoa, Italy. Photo: Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP
09:42 CEST+02:00
Italy on Wednesday marks a year since the Genoa motorway bridge collapse that killed 43 people and left the country reeling with shock.

The ceremony will take place close to the spot where a section of the Morandi highway fell during heavy rain on August 14, 2018, hurling dozens of cars and several trucks onto railway tracks below.

Rubble and mangled steel still lie strewn across the site. 

Wreckage at the site of the disaster. Photo: AFP

The bridge's two remaining towers were demolished in a giant blast in June, as demolition work began to make way for a new structure.

VIDEO: Genoa's collapsed Morandi bridge blown up

"I invite all Genoa citizens to take part in the ceremony to remember the victims of the Morandi bridge. I ask those who cannot come to observe a minute's silence, wherever they are, at 11:36 am (0936 GMT)", the moment the bridge collapsed, Genoa mayor Marco Bucci said ahead of the event.

Italy's political leaders are due to attend Wednesday's commemoration, including Matteo Salvini, his former coalition partner and M5S head Luigi di Maio, as well as President Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.Genoa archbishop Angelo Bagnasco will celebrate a mass while Conte, Bucci and representatives from victims' families are to give speeches.

A ruined section of the former bridge at the site of the disaster. Photo: AFP

The city's church bells will ring and port sirens wail after the minute's silence.

The ceremony comes amid a political crisis in Italy, as the League party attempts to force early elections and seize power.

Officials in Genoa expressed concern that the power struggle could hamper the construction of the new bridge, due to be completed early next year.

"I hope that this government crisis won't cause delays to the completing this important infrastructure," district mayor Federico Romeo told AFP of the crucial transport artery.

A view of the city of Genoa without the bridge on August 13, 2019. Photo: AFP

The new steel and concrete motorway bridge, designed by Italian architect and Genoa native Renzo Piano, is scheduled to be open for traffic in April 2020.

"This will last for a thousand years," Piano said last year.

It will "have elements of a boat because that is something from Genoa," he said of the streamlined and luminous white structure.

READ ALSO: Genoa bridge collapse: in pictures

A legal battle is still raging over who is responsible for the disaster.

Autostrade per l'Italia (ASPI), the Benetton family-owned business which operated the motorway is defending itself against victims' families and politicians, mainly from the M5S, who say the company prioritised profit over safety.

The Morandi bridge, named after its architect who designed it in the 1960s "collapsed because it could no longer stand," Genoa prosecutor Francesco Cozzi said recently.

A sign on the road that formerly led to the Morandi bridge highway. Photo: AFP

A total of 71 people are accused in the legal case, from managers in two Benetton companies to civil servants, involving more than 100 lawyers, 120 experts, 75 witnesses and tonnes of documents and other evidence.

The fallout from the bridge collapse was one of many points of disagreement between Salvini's League and Di Maio's M5S.

The M5S wanted ASPI's concessions to be immediately taken away, while the League, which is close to northern Italy's industrial milieu, remained prudent on attributing blame.

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