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Collapsed Italy bridge known to be 'defective'

By EARLE GALE in London | China Daily | Updated: 2023-05-25 09:39

A bridge in Italy that collapsed in 2018, killing 43 people, was known to have been defective, the man who had overseen its management company has admitted.

At the time of the collapse of Genoa's Morandi Bridge, Gianni Mion had been managing director of Edizione, the holding group that owned Autostrade per l'Italia, the company that managed the crossing.

He told a shocked court on Tuesday that he had been concerned about the bridge in the Italian port city for some time before it failed during a storm on Aug 14, 2018.

"I didn't do anything and it's my greatest regret," he told the court, which has been hearing cases against 59 defendants since July.

Mion, who is among those facing charges, said: "It emerged that the bridge had an original design defect and that there was a collapse risk." But he said he did not push the issue because he was afraid he would lose his job.

Mion also told the court the defect had been discussed eight years before the disaster, and he had asked whether a third-party expert could investigate.

"In a meeting between managers and executives, doubts arose about whether the Morandi Bridge could remain standing due to a serious design flaw," he was quoted by Agence France-Presse as saying.

Mion said he was told "there's the self-certification", which he said seemed, at the time, to be the end of the issue.

"I didn't understand the meaning of that answer; I thought it was nonsense," the BBC quoted him as saying. "I should have done something about it, but I didn't."

Facing charges

Those on trial are facing charges including multiple counts of manslaughter. They include managers and technical staff members at both the bridge's maintenance company and its management company, transport ministry officials and other civil servants.

All have pleaded not guilty.

The company that managed the bridge has already admitted responsibility and reached a financial settlement.

The court has heard how a 200-meter section of the elevated major highway crossing Genoa had been especially busy when it failed, because people were on the move to participate in a religious holiday the next day.

Dozens of vehicles plummeted 45 meters onto railway tracks, where many were hit by falling debris.

Accusations immediately surfaced that corruption could have played a part, with inferior materials potentially used or corners cut during construction, which prompted Giuseppe Conte, Italy's prime minister at the time, to say the failure was "unacceptable in modern society".

Italian media said Mion's testimony opens the door to questions being asked about why the bridge was not renovated or demolished before the accident happened.

A new crossing, designed by architect Renzo Piano, replaced the old bridge in August 2020.

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