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Empa Swiss lab begins analysis of debris from Genoa bridge  

A general view showing part of the collapsed Morandi bridge in central Genoa, Italy

A general view showing part of the collapsed Morandi bridge in central Genoa, Italy

(Keystone)

Parts of the motorway bridge that collapsed in the Italian port of Genoa last August killing 43 people have arrived at a specialist lab in Switzerland where scientists hope to help determine the causes of the deadly accident. 

The Italian justice system has asked three experts from the Federal Laboratory for Materials Science and Technology (Empaexternal link) to study the bridge debris, the Dübendorf-based laboratory said on Tuesday. They will also be assisted by Professor Bernhard Elesener from the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETHZ).

Empa says it will not provide any further details on the ongoing investigation. In the past, the laboratory has investigated other cases of infrastructure weaknesses, such as the Uster in-door swimming pool in 1985 or the collapse of the gymnasium roof at the St Gallen professional school in 2009. 

The Italian government has blamed the toll road operator Autostrade that runs Italy’s motorways for failings in the deadly Morandi bridge collapse in Genoa. A government report published in September said Autostrade had failed to assess the safety of the Genoa bridge, where a viaduct collapsed on August 14, killing 43 people. The government has said it wants to revoke all of Autostrade’s Italian motorway concessions.

The report by a committee at the Transport Ministry said Autostrade had been unable to deal with issues arising from the ageing of the infrastructure it operated. It said that 98% of the investment to reinforce the bridge since 1982 had been spent before Autostrade was privatised in 1999. 

The toll operator has rejected the report’s findings, saying it had not clarified the causes of the collapse, adding its own technicians had no access to the site for checks.

Keystone SDA/Reuters/sb

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