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Large bridge collapses in Italy, No loss of life due to scarce traffic owed to coronavirus

A huge bridge section has collapsed in Tuscany, the latest case of Italy’s infrastructure crumbling after years of neglect.

Police and fire crews roped off the access road to the bridge over the Magra River in Albiano Magra in the province of Massa Carrara, according to Carabinieri footage of the scene Wednesday.

The 850ft bridge on the SS330 road near the town of Aulla, roughly midway between Genoa and Florence, in the northern tip of Tuscany, collapsed at 10.25 am (0825 GMT).

Although casualties were limited in the incident, the collapse highlights the poor state of repair of Italy’s road network. A similar disaster in 2018 befell the port city of Genoa but with a far higher number of fatalities.

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A huge 260ft stretch of motorway bridge plummeted into the Polcevera river, killing 43 people, which was later pinned on a fatal flaw in its construction or wear and tear that inspectors had missed. The stretch of road is still in the process of being rebuilt.

Helicopter views of the area of the latest accident showed sections of the bridge crossing the river Magra had collapsed to the level of the water, buckling a stretch of road behind it.

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The Anas road agency had sent inspectors to the bridge last year after a crack developed following heavy rains. The section was cleared for further use, Italian agency ANSA said.

The mayor of Aulla, Roberto Vallettini, had written to Anas flagging that heavy trucks were repeatedly using the two-lane bridge because of nearby road closures.

The lockdown to halt the spread of the coronavirus has cut movement so heavy midweek traffic that might normally have been using the bridge was absent and only two vehicles were involved.

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The two drivers were taken to hospital with minor injuries, a fire brigade spokesman said.

The bridge was previously managed by provincial authorities and was then put under the management of ANAS, a company controlled by state-owned railway group Ferrovie dello Stato.

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Transport Minister Paola De Micheli said ANAS had been operating the bridge since 2018 and said she had requested a detailed report from the group.

The poor maintenance of Italy’s roads and bridges and mismanagement of its highway network has been a major political issue since the collapse of the bridge in Genoa, which was operated by infrastructure group Atlantia.

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