Former Cagliari goalkeeper Davide Capello survives 30m fall at Genoa bridge collapse

The collapsed Morandi Bridge is seen in the Italian port city of Genoa Italy

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.

Moroccan lorry driver, Afifi Idriss, 39, said: "I saw the green lorry in front of me stop and then reverse so I stopped too, locked the truck and ran".

The tender provided for a strengthening of the bridge's pier cables, including those of pier nine, the one that collapsed on Tuesday.

Maintenance was "underway to consolidate it", the company in charge of Italian highways, Autostrade, said in a statement on Tuesday.

Italian President Sergio Mattarella said a "catastrophe" had hit Genoa and the whole of Italy, as attention turned to what might have caused the collapse and who might be ultimately responsible.

The tragic collapse of a bridge in the Italian city of Genoa has left at least 31 dead and many more injured.

Hundreds of rescuers continued their search on Wednesday after scouring the huge piles of concrete and twisted metal overnight by floodlight, hoping to find survivors.

That viewpoint has been backed by Italy's CNR civil engineering society, who state structures like the Morandi Bridge have simply outlasted their reasonable lifespan.

Italian media reported that 200 metres of the "Morandi" bridge had fallen away. I don't know how my vehicle wasn't crushed.

At least 37 people were killed, when a section of the 1,100-meter (3,600-foot) long viaduct gave way following heavy rain around midday on Tuesday. The collapse sent dozens of vehicles plunging into the depths below.

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The collapse of the bridge was an "incident of vast proportions on a vital arterial road, not just for Genoa, but for the whole country", said Liguria region Governor Giovanni Toti.

The French Foreign Ministry says Wednesday that the victims include three French citizens and expressed condolences to their families.

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".

While the apartments under the viaduct were largely spared the impact of the falling concrete, some 440 people evacuated from apartments under the shard of unscathed bridge face uncertainty about when, if ever, they will be allowed to live in their homes again.

General wear on the structure across its 50-year lifespan is a more likely culprit, said Ian Firth, former head of the UK's Institution of Structural Engineers.

Genoa police put the death toll at 39, with 16 injured.

Emergency teams say they are treating recovery efforts like an natural disaster, removing rubble carefully in search of survivors. The risk of fatality from a bridge collapse is around 1 in 100 million per year, which is roughly 100 times less likely than being struck by lightning.

"We have a duty to plan an extraordinary measure to monitor the state of infrastructure across the country", Conte told reporters in Genoa on Tuesday. He said 13 people had been hospitalised, including five in a critical condition.

Shortly before noon Tuesday, about a 260-foot stretch of a highway broke off from the 150-foot high Morandi Bridge during a storm. There had been proposals to upgrade the 1967 bridge.

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