17/08/2018 11:24 BST

Firm Running Collapsed Genoa Bridge Ordered To Pay For Rebuild

Dozens lost their lives in the disaster.

Stefano Rellandini / Reuters
The company behind the Genoa bridge has been told to rebuild it at their own expense following its collapse

The Italian government has demanded the firm in control of the Genoa bridge rebuild at its own expense after its collapse on Tuesday claimed at least 39 lives. 

The transport ministry told Autostrade per l’Italia to complete the job within a limited timeframe and also wants it to foot the bill for restoring buildings and other areas damaged when a 260ft (79m) span of the Morandi viaduct crashed to the ground during a torrential downpour. 

Autostrade – which says it made regular, thorough safety checks – has been given 15 days to prove it met its contractual obligations.

The firm is expected to hold an extraordinary board meeting next Tuesday to discuss the disaster, Reuters reported on Friday.

The company, 88 percent owned by holding company Atlantia and controlled by Italy’s wealthy Benetton family, has become engulfed in a political row over its motorway concessions.

Shares in Atlantia fell by as much as 25 percent as investors spooked by threats of government retaliation dumped their stock on Thursday.

In a statement, the Italian transport ministry said Autostrade must prove it carried out required work to ensure the proper functioning of the bridge and avoid accidents. 

Deputy Transport Minister Edoardo said: “The options we’re looking at are the full revocation, the revocation of just the A10 section or a penalty, but a 150m euro ($170m) penalty is too low.”

Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio warned the state would have to take over the country’s motorways if concession-holders could not do the job properly.

Fifteen people remain badly injured following the disaster that saw motorists plunge 150ft (45m) to the ground below.  At least seven people have been pulled from the rubble alive, but more are thought to be missing.

While the political and financial consequences of the tragedy are yet to be determined, miraculous tales of survival have emerged.

Dad-to-be Gianluca Ardini has told how he clung to wires on the collapsed bridge for hours, despite having a dislocated shoulder. 

The 29-year-old said thinking of his unborn child gave him the “strength to survive”. His 28-year-old girlfriend, Giulia Organo, is eight months pregnant. 

Ardini was making his last delivery of the day when the bridge collapsed. His colleague, father-of-four Luigi Altadonna, fell to his death.

Gianluca Ardini/Facebook
Gianluca Ardini and his girlfriend Giulia Organo

Organo was quoted in Italian media reports as saying: “It’s been a miracle, that’s all I can say. He held on to two wires for dear life.”

She continued: “In September he’ll be a father. I believe this is one of the reasons why he held on.”

Earlier this week, former Italian football player Davide Capello told of his disbelief at surviving the disaster, saying the collapse felt like an “apocalypse” unfolding before his eyes.

The 33-year-old, a goalkeeper who used to play for Serie A side Cagliari, said he was able to clamber out of his vehicle, which was “attached to a pylon”, and make his way down to rescuers waiting below. 

“I was able to get out... I don’t know how my car wasn’t crushed. It seemed like a scene from a film, it was the apocalypse,” he said.