State funeral for Italy bridge collapse victims

Grieving relatives gathered at the hall in Genoa where rows of coffins were laid out

Italian President, Sergio Mattarella is presiding at a state funeral for 18 of the victims of Tuesday’s bridge collapse in Genoa.

Mr Mattarella and PM Giuseppe Conte are leading mourners at the ceremony.

Local media say just one person is now missing after the tragedy, as a family of three were found dead overnight bringing the death toll to 41.

Some families are reportedly staying away from Saturday’s ceremony because of anger at the government.

The collapse of a section of the Morandi motorway bridge and the deaths of those crossing in vehicles has led to a fierce debate in Italy about the nation’s infrastructure.

The government has set up a commission to examine the causes of the disaster and one member speculated on Friday that a broken cable rod was “a serious work hypothesis”.

Antonio Brencich, a University of Genoa lecturer, said there were “eyewitness accounts and videos that go in this direction”.

The bridge, which was constructed in the 1960s, has cables running directly from the deck to the top of the towers.

Families gather for funeral
On Friday, grieving relatives gathered at the hall in Genoa where rows of coffins were laid out for Saturday’s state funeral.

Family members embraced and prayed and placed photographs and flowers on the coffins of their loved ones.

Saturday’s ceremony coincides with a national day of mourning and will be led by the city’s archbishop, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco.

But a number of families chose not to take part and are holding private burials elsewhere in Italy.

“Many do not want to take part in a showcase and I understand them,” Father Mauro Brezzo, chaplain of Genoa’s San Martino hospital, told Italian media.

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”.

Nunzia, mother of 26-year-old Gerardo Esposito, said government officials should not be seen at the victims’ funerals.

Giovanni Battiloro was in the same vehicle as Mr Esposito. His father, Roberto, told Italian newspaper Il Messaggero: “We do not want farcical ceremonies.

“Our children are not a tool for public parades… it is among those who loved them that they will receive a farewell.”

Other families said they simply preferred to grieve in private.

Sammie Idika