State funeral held for Genoa bridge collapse victims

Mourners remembered 18 of the victims of the deadly bridge collapse in the northern Italian city of Genoa at a joint state funeral service on Saturday that was reportedly boycotted by some families amid anger against the government.

At least 39 people died when a section of the Morandi Bridge — a vital link of the A10 highway that connects northwest Italy to France and one of the busiest bridges in Italy — suddenly plummeted to the ground on Tuesday.

President Sergio Materella, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, and Vice Prime ministers Matteo Salvini and Luigi Di Maio were among the politicians to attend the funeral service at a convention center in the city, led by the city’s archbishop, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco.

Each of the 18 coffins — including one small, white one for a child — was decorated with mounds of flowers. Families and survivors sat by the caskets, many of which also had a photo of the victim.

Mourners gave a standing ovation as a number of first responders, in uniform, arrived for the service. Many of them stopped to kiss the coffins as they passed by. Those gathered also applauded when the names of the dead were read out.

Bagnasco called the disaster “a deep wound” for the city.

“The collapse showed a glimpse of the heart of Genoa,” he said. “The wound is profound, and made worse by the boundless grief for those who have lost their lives and for the missing, for their relatives, the wounded, the many displaced. There are countless signs of both dismay and affection that have come not only from Italy, but also from many parts of the world.”

An imam also spoke words of remembrance for two Muslim victims of the collapse.

The state ceremony took place as search efforts continued for an unknown number of people who may still be trapped among the massive chunks of concrete.

Many families chose not to participate out of frustration and anger over the yet unknown cause of the tragedy. Other families who are still waiting for their missing loved ones to be found complained that it was too soon for a state funeral to be held.

A separate funeral for four friends who died in the bridge collapse took place on Friday. Large crowds gathered outside the church in Torre del Greco, near Naples, while the priests blessed the four coffins.

Roberto Battiloro, the father of one of the four, told Italian news media he was boycotting the state funeral because he didn’t want to be involved in a “parade of politicians.”

Other funerals will be held throughout the weekend, and those honored at the state funeral will now be taken to their individual towns for burial. Conte has proclaimed Saturday a day of national mourning.

Search for the missing continues

A few people are known to be still missing. But Italian authorities have said they don’t know exactly how many cars were on the collapsed section of the bridge or the number of people that were in them.

Firefighters and rescue teams recovered a car from the rubble overnight into Saturday. A local government spokesman told CNN that they had found body parts in the vehicle but could not yet confirm how many people they belonged to, nor who the people were.

The Italian fire service tweeted Saturday morning: “With grief in our hearts, our work continues.”

Hopes of finding survivors are fading and authorities have warned that the number killed in the disaster may rise.

The European Commission tweeted its “deepest sympathy and sincere condolences to the families and friends of those who have died.”

Firm faces questions over maintenance

Conte announced a 12-month state of emergency for the city of Genoa on Wednesday night and pledged €5 million, or about $5.7 million, to tackle the immediate costs of the search-and-rescue efforts.

The company which had the contract for maintenance on the A10 motorway, Autostrade, said it would hold a news conference Saturday afternoon in Genoa.

Leading politicians have blamed Autostrade for the Genoa disaster. Conte announced Wednesday that his government would revoke the concession from the company, while Transport Minister Danilo Toninelli called for senior managers there to resign.

The Italian Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport announced the creation of an inspection commission to carry out technical checks and analysis in an investigation into the cause of the collapse. The commission will have 30 days to provide the minister with a detailed report on the collapse.

Experts have warned that thousands of other bridges in Italy could be at risk of collapse.