Death toll rises in Italy bridge collapse

U.S. & World

The Latest developments following the deadly collapse of a highway bridge in Italy (all times local):

1:35 p.m.

Three French citizens are among dozens of dead in a highway bridge collapse in Italy at the height of holiday travel season.

The French Foreign Ministry says Wednesday that the victims include three French citizens and expressed condolences to their families. It did not release their identities. Local media reported they were two young women and a man from Toulouse who had traveled to Italy for a music festival.

The statement says the French government is in touch with Italian authorities to determine if there are other French victims.

Italian authorities say at least 39 were killed in Tuesday’s disaster on a highway in Genoa that connects Italy to France. It happened as many families were on the road ahead of a major summer holiday Wednesday in parts of Europe.

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12:40 p.m.

Pope Francis has led prayers for the victims of the Genoa highway bridge collapse.

Francis also noted the shock of Genoa’s population in remarks Wednesday to faithful in St. Peter’s Square.

Authorities said at least 39 were killed in the bridge’s collapse on Tuesday in the northwestern Italian port city.

Francis said: “I am especially thinking of all those tried by the tragedy in Genoa yesterday, which caused victims and a sense of loss in the population.”

He expressed his “spiritual closeness” to the victims, the injured and their families and the hundreds of people who were forced to flee homes in the area.

He then led thousands of people in the square in a special prayer for the victims and their loved ones.

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12:30 p.m.

Italian authorities have raised the number of confirmed deaths to 39 in the Genoa highway bridge collapse.

Angelo Borrelli, the head of the civil protection department, announced the latest death toll at a news conference in Genoa on Wednesday.

Borrelli said some 1,000 rescuers have been working since after the collapse Tuesday to search for `’any possible missing” persons.

He added that 15 people were injured when a 80-meter (260-foot) stretch of highway broke off, sending vehicles plunging from the bridge.

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12:15 p.m.

Albanian authorities say that two Albanian men were killed in the collapse of the highway bridge in Genoa.

 The Albanian Embassy in Rome identified the victims as two young Albanian men named Marjus Djerri and Edi Bokrina on its Facebook page Wednesday, expressing condolences and offering assistance to their families.

Hundreds of thousands of Albanians have moved to Italy seeking better lives following the collapse of the communist regime in the tiny western Balkan country.

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10:45 a.m.

Italian authorities have raised the death toll in the Genoa highway bridge collapse to at least 37.

The Italian city’s prefect office announced the updated figure on Wednesday even as rescuers searched through tons of slabs of broken roadbed, smashed concrete chunks and twisted steel for any more survivors.

At least two people were missing.

The Morandi Bridge collapsed without warning Tuesday, sending dozens of vehicles plunging as much as 50 meters (180 feet) below. Sixteen people were injured. State radio said among them was a woman who suffered smoke inhalation from a fire sparked by debris falling into her home and a Czech truck driver who suffered a chest injury.

Many in the city had said the 1967 bridge needed shoring up.

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9 a.m.

Rescue and recovery efforts continued through the night into the morning in Italy following the collapse of a highway bridge in Genoa, while authorities raised the death toll to 35 with three missing.

Rescuers searched through tons of concrete slabs and steel for survivors or bodies from the collapse a day earlier on the eve of Wednesday’s summer Ferragosto holiday.

State radio Wednesday quoted the prefect’s office confirming a death toll of 35 and denying some news reports that put it at 38.

About a dozen people remained hospitalized in serious condition.

What caused an 80-meter (260-foot) long stretch of highway to break off from the 45-meter (150 foot) high Morandi Bridge in the northwestern port city is under investigation. There had been proposals to upgrade the 1967 bridge.

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