The Morandi Bridge — sometimes known as the Polcevera viaduct — collapsed during a thunderstorm on Tuesday, August 14,
The concrete structure crashed down on a river, two roads and railway tracks in the center of the Italian city of Genoa, killing 39 people.
There has been speculation that a bolt of lightning might have hit the bridge but Agathoklis Giaralis, deputy director of the University of London's Civil Engineering Structures Research Center, said that was highly unlikely to have been the cause.
Might now be a wee worry about crossing similar bridges by the same engineer, Ricardo Morandi? pic.twitter.com/EFp3jEXA74— jack sloan art (@jacksloanart) 15 August 2018
"It couldn't have been lightning. I don't see how that would be possible as it's reinforced concrete and it's certainly never happened before," Mr. Giaralis told the Mail Online, adding it was likely to have been either flawed foundations or extensive corrosion that was likely to have been to blame.
Five Star Movement Press Release 2013: collapse of #Morandi a "fairytale".— Amy O'Brien (@Amy_EOBrien) 16 August 2018
5th bridge collapse in 5 years screams move away from Danilo Toninelli/Luigi Di Maio/Autostrade per l'Italia blame game and towards nonpartisan investigation of the peninsula's inspections/maintenance. https://t.co/7I7GcGdRWK
But Valeria Passetti, an Italian architect and honorary consul, said she did not want to speculate on such a "terrible tragedy".
"Let's wait for the results of the (public) inquiry and hopefully we will know the truth," Ms. Passetti tweeted in response to a query from Sputnik.
Death Toll Due to Rise in Genoa
Around 20 people are missing, with the death toll expected to rise over the next few days.The Morandi Bridge — named after its designer, Riccardo Morandi — was part of the A10 autostrada, or motorway, which links Genoa with the French border at Ventimiglia.
It crossed the river Polcevera between the suburbs of Campasso and Coronata and also spanned the railway which runs through Genoa.
Construction began in 1963 and the bridge opened four years later at the same time as the A10 between Genoa and Savona.
Morandi, who died in 1989, also designed a number of other similar bridges which used prestressed concrete, rather than steel cables, to hold them up.
Libyan Lookalike Bridge Has Been Closed
Among those he built in a similar style to the bridge in Genoa were the Wadi el Kuf bridge in Libya, which opened in 1972.
In October 2017 Libyan officials closed the bridge after inspectors identified a number of potential fatal fractures.
October 2017(!) — Libya(!) close down a bridge designed by Riccardo Morandi — for safety reasons. Morandi also designed the similar bridge in Genoa that collapsed on Tuesday. Perhaps the Libyan bridge wasn’t making profit for any road company… https://t.co/WZaKk6uy2G— Mark Kaiser (@leforcat) 16 August 2018
Now the focus is likely to switch to the Carpineto Bridge, near Potenza in the Italian state of Basilicata, which looks alarmingly similar to the Genoa structure.
Despite studies that Genoa’s Morandi Bridge risked collapse, local 5Star leaders said it was “a fable.” Argued against upgrading at Genoa council. Giovanni Calvini, local biz boss, 2012: “In 10 years Morandi Bridge will collapse … we will remember names of who said ‘no’”— Andrew Neil (@afneil) 16 August 2018
There will also be alarm bells ringing in Venezuela, which is home to Morandi's largest and most ambitious structure, the five mile long General Rafael Urdaneta Bridge which crosses Lake Maracaibo.
Bridge in Colombia Already Replaced
Another of his designs, the Pumarejo Bridge in Colombia, is about to be replaced. It was unpopular almost from the time it opened in 1974 because it constricted navigation of the Magdalena River, which it crosses.
Morandi also designed a number of other structures — including the, the Ponte Amerigo Vespucci in Florence, the Great Storms River Bridge, in South Africa, the Kinnaird Bridge in Canada and the National Unity Bridge in Ecuador — although these were not of the same design as the one which failed in Genoa.
In the 1960s Morandi designed the Fiumarella viaduct near Catanzaro in southern Italy, which ironically replaced a bridge which had seen a tragedy — 71 people were killed when a train derailed and plunged into the valley below.
I'm seeing "failure of engineering" as the reason for the Morandi Bridge collapse.— Ben R. Hodges (@H2odges) 16 August 2018
It's a failure of policy and politics.
Engineers told policy-makers the 50-year old bridge was unsafe. The decision to keep an unsafe bridge in operation is policy and politics, not engineering.