World’s luckiest driver breaks silence
A TRUCK driver who was seconds away from death has broken his silence, days after Italian authorities confirmed at least 39 people died from the Genoa bridge collapse.
The 37-year-old dad, known only as FL, had been delivering groceries for a local supermarket when the freeway fell away, causing more than 30 cars to drop.
An overtaking car had forced FL to slow down but when he saw that same car drop off the edge of the freeway, he immediately managed to slam on his brakes.
"I saw the road collapsing, with all the cars that I had in front of me at that time," FL told rescuers.
"When a car overtook me I slowed down … (then) at a certain moment everything shook. The car in front of me disappeared and seemed to be swallowed up by the clouds. I looked up and saw the bridge pylon fall," he said.
"Instinctively, finding myself in front of the void, I put the van into reverse, to escape this hell."
The driver left his green lorry precariously close to the edge of the collapsed road, telling Italian media how he had escaped the "hell" of the bridge collapse.
"It was raining very hard and it wasn't possible to go very fast," he told the Corriere della Sera newspaper.
The truck driver's incredible tale of survival comes as authorities begin to name the victims.
Authorities have confirmed at least 39 people have died and 15 were injured after the bridge collapsed.
At least three children are among the dead, including a baby and a nine-year-old boy who died with his parents.
Roberto Robbiano, 44, his wife Ersilia Piccinino, 41, and their son Samuel all died in the tragedy, Italian newspaper La Stampa reported.
Inside their car, rescuers found Samuel with his favourite football decorated with Spider-Man images.
The family was travelling to Sardinia via Genoa and rescuers found their car stuffed with beach toys and an umbrella.
A family from Turin in northern Italy were also victims of the tragedy and had also been on their way to a beach holiday.
The ANSA news agency identified the family as Andrea Vittone, 49, his partner Claudia Possetti, 47, and her children Manuele and Camilla Bellasio, aged 16 and 12.
Alberto Fanfani, 32, and Marta Danisi, 29, from Florence, were two more victims. Ms Danisi worked as a nurse in the northern Italian town of Alessandria and her partner worked as an anaesthesiologist.
Four young French friends on their way to a techno music festival were also among the dead: Melissa Artu-Bastit, her boyfriend Nathan Gusman, and friends Axelle Place and William Pouzadoux.
Others include father and amateur footballer Andrea Cerulli, 48, and model Elisa Bozzo, 34, who was found dead after friends launched an appeal on Facebook.
Mr Cerulli's football team confirmed his death on Facebook, posting a tribute for the dad with a picture of him balancing his son on his shoulders.
Another victim was 24-year-old Stella Boccia. Her parents run a restaurant in Tuscany and confirmed their daughter's death via their Facebook page.
"We apologise to our customers, but we will be closed for mourning. Unfortunately a piece of our hearts remains under the rubble of the Genoa bridge."
Ms Boccia's boyfriend Carlos Trujillo was killed with her.
Mr Trujillo was from Peru and the couple had only been together for a few months.
Three other South Americans, who had made their home in Italy, were among other victims.
Chef Juan Carlos Pastenes, 64, from Santiago, Chile died after spending more than 30 years in his adopted Italian hometown.
His wife Nora Rivera, and their friend Juan Figueroa Carrasco were in the same car and died together.
Survivors who witnessed the bridge collapse have spoken about the horror moment of watching almost 100m of road collapse as if it was "made with flour".
A truck driver had just passed the crumbling section when he looked in his rear-view mirror and saw it give way.
"I saw the bridge collapse in the rear-view mirror, a terrible fear, I'm miraculously alive," he told Repubblica.
Italy's government has blamed the firm that operated the collapsed Genoa bridge for the disaster as it announced a state of emergency in the region.
Search operations are continuing and rescuers have spent the past few nights digging through mountains of crushed concrete.
A vast span of the Morandi Bridge caved in during a heavy rainstorm in the northern port city on Tuesday, sending about 35 cars and several trucks plunging 45m onto railway tracks below.
The tragedy has focused anger on the structural problems that have dogged the decades-old bridge and the private sector firm Autostrade per l'Italia, which is currently in charge of operating and maintaining swathes of the country's motorways.
Italian deputy prime minister Luigi Di Maio said the tragedy "could have been avoided". "Autostrade should have done maintenance and didn't do it," he alleged.
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte also confirmed that his government would push to revoke the company's contract for the A10 motorway, which includes the bridge, while Transport Minister Danilo Toninelli said the company should be fined up to €150 million ($A235 million).
The firm, which said the bridge had been undergoing maintenance work, released a statement refuting accusations of underfunding of motorway infrastructure.
"In the last five years (2012-2017) the company's investment in the security, maintenance and strengthening of the network has been over €1 billion [$A1.5 billion] a year," it said.