A bridge has collapsed in Italy’s northwestern city of Genoa, sending vehicles falling nearly 100 metres to the ground and killing and injuring dozens of people.
The Italian Ansa news agency said at least 35 people had been killed, quoting firefighters.
At least 15 people were injured and some remained missing after part of the Morandi Bridge on the A10 motorway caved in around midday local time (10:00 GMT) on Tuesday, tweeted Edoardo Rixi, deputy transport minister.
About 200 firefighters were deployed to the scene, with the death toll feared to rise.
A truck driver who survived a sharp fall told the Italian daily Corriere della Sera newspaper: “I heard a rumble, then I fell down. My truck is buried under the rubble.”
He said it was a “miracle” that he only sprained a shoulder and was left with bruises.
The cause of the collapse was not immediately clear, although weather services in the region had issued a storm warning on Tuesday morning.
A director for motorway operator Autostrade, which manages the section of the toll road that collapsed, said it had been impossible to predict.
“The bridge was constantly monitored, even more than was foreseen by the law … there was no reason to consider the bridge dangerous,” Stefano Marigliani told the Reuters news agency.
Italy’s Civil Protection Agency, meanwhile, said it was yet to establish the cause of the incident due to a lack of sufficient information.
It is peak tourist season in Italy. Many expect that the bridge was busier than usual.
‘Focus on survivors’
More than 30 cars and about 10 trucks were on the viaduct when it collapsed, according to the agency.
Television images showed the bridge in the mist with a huge chunk missing, with Italian media reporting that about 200 metres of the bridge had fallen away.
Al Jazeera’s Emma Hayward, reporting from London, said part of the bridge had “disappeared”.
“There were multiple vehicles on the bridge at the time of the collapse, plunging more than 100 metres below to a stream and some rail tracks,” Hayward said.
“The focus now is on trying to reach any survivors of this incident.”
Sabina Castelfranco, an Italian journalist, told Al Jazeera from Tuscany that Italy was in mourning.
Italians are devastated by this disaster [and] the idea that our highways and bridges are not safe and that something like this can happen, she said.
‘An immense tragedy’
Police footage showed firemen working to clear debris around a crushed truck, while others nearby scaled broken slabs of the collapsed bridge support.
Restructuring work on the 1.2km-long bridge, a major artery to the Italian Riviera and to France’s southern coast, was carried out in 2016.
The highway operator said work to shore up its foundation was being carried out at the time of it falling in.
Tancredi Palmeri, an Italian journalist, told Al Jazeera from Milan that the incident took place on a usually busy stretch of road.
“Genoa is a port city that is linked to the right to Milan and the other parts of Italy and to the left is linked to Italy’s border with France,” he said.
“The bridge is one of the main two gates to the city, everybody that has been to Genoa by car has passed by this highway bridge.”
Transport Minister Danilo Toninelli said the collapse was “an immense tragedy” as he travelled to Genoa.
“I am following with the greatest apprehension what has happened,” Toninelli wrote on Twitter.
The office of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said he was heading to Genoa in the evening and would remain there on Wednesday.
Defence Minister Elisabetta Trenta, meanwhile, said the army was ready to offer manpower and vehicles to help with the rescue operations.
French President Emmanuel Macron has offered Italy his country’s help following the incident.