Italy's Autostrade to announce plan for victims, city after bridge collapse

Genoa bridge collapse

Close to 300 firefighters and emergency services personnel were involved in the rescue operation

Mourners and heads of state gathered in Genoa, Italy on Saturday for a state-run funeral to honor victims of the highway bridge collapse on Tuesday.

President of Italy Sergio Mattarella meets with mourners as he attends a State funeral service for the victims of the Morandi Bridge disaster at the Fiera di Genova exhibition centre on August 18, 2018 in Genoa, Italy.

A visibly shaken Mattarella spoke of an "unacceptable tragedy".

Genoa's prefect's office said it didn't immediately have official confirmation of the media reports of the latest discovery of bodies by rescuers.

On each coffin were names of the dead.

Lega Serie A has confirmed that, while Genoa and Sampdoria's season-openers have been postponed due to the tragic Ponte Morandi bridge collapse on Tuesday, the remainder of the weekend's games will go ahead as scheduled.

Bagnasco called the disaster "a deep wound" for the city.

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The imam drew applause when he prayed that God protect Italy and all Italians.

Chief executive Giovanni Castellucci said the company has a plan to demolish what is left of the largely concrete bridge and build a "less imposing" steel one.

He held a placard that read: "In Italy, we prefer ribbon-cuttings to maintenance" - referring to the country's dilapidated infrastructure.

Authorities have planned a state funeral service on Saturday at a hall in Genoa, coinciding with a day of mourning.

"Everyone who has come here in recent years has gone over that bridge".

Numerous grieving relatives have blamed the government for failing to maintain the bridge, which eventually collapsed. Other relatives were comforted by family members as they wiped away their tears.

Some 24 hours after the tragic event in the northern city, Salvini, leader of the Euroskeptic Northern League, said the EU's spending restrictions had limited Italy's ability to invest in its infrastructure.

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The dead also include three Chileans and four French nationals, while 10 people remain in hospital.

Anger and sadness erupted at the funeral Friday for four men in their 20s, all friends from the Naples seaside suburb of Torre del Greco, whose lives were snuffed out as they drove over the bridge heading to a vacation in Spain. "This shouldn't have happened", Genoa resident Claudio Castellaro, 73, told AFP.

Archbishop Angelo Bagnasco, who is expected to lead the mass, expressed his respect for those who refused state funerals.

In a news conference in the port city, held only hours after a state funeral for numerous victims, Chief Executive Giovanni Castellucci voiced his deep condolences for the victims' families but declined to give an unreserved apology.

One grieving mother quoted in Italian media said she held the Italian state responsible for the collapse, adding "the parade of politicians has been shameful". His father, Roberto, told Italian newspaper Il Messaggero: "We do not want farcical ceremonies".

The Morandi viaduct dates from the 1960s and has been riddled with structural problems for decades, leading to expensive maintenance and severe criticism from engineering experts.

Autostrade, which operates and maintains almost half of Italy's motorways, estimates it will take five months to rebuild the bridge.

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