Officials blamed for bridge collapse told to leave memorial service

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Motorway executives attending a ceremony to remember victims of a major bridge collapse were told to leave after grieving relatives asked the Italian prime minister to intervene.

A service was held in Genoa marking one year since 43 people were killed in the Morandi Bridge disaster.

Top executives for the country’s biggest motorway operator Atlantia as well as company officials were seen at the ceremony but made an early exit before proceedings began.

Image: Relatives attended the service to mark one year since the collapse

People attend the ceremony marking the first anniversary of the collapse of a motorway Morandi Bridge that killed 43 people in Genoa, Italy, August 14, 2019. REUTERS/Massimo Pinca

Image: The names of the 43 victims were read out in the ceremony

Atlantia has been blamed by the ruling 5-Star movement for the tragedy, with the group saying the company neglected maintenance on the viaduct.

It has called for Atlantia’s national toll-road concession to be revoked.

Atlantia, controlled by the Benetton family, has denied the accusations, and insists regular, state-supervised inspections showed the bridge was safe.

Red cross member embraces a relative before a mass for the first anniversary of the collapse of the Morandi bridge, on August 14, 2019 in Genoa. (Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP) (Photo credit should read ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images)

Image: A Red Cross worker hugs a relative at the ceremony

Italian Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini talks with relatives of one of the victims during the ceremony marking the first anniversary of the collapse of a motorway Morandi Bridge that killed 43 people in Genoa, Italy, August 14, 2019. REUTERS/Massimo Pinca

Image: Italian deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini talks to victims’ relatives

Politicians, including Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and other leaders, took their seats in the front row of the service on Wednesday morning.

More from Genoa Bridge Collapse

Some relatives told Mr Conte they would leave if the motorway executives stayed. Mr Conte’s officials intervened, and chief executive Giovanni Castellucci and chairman Fabio Cerchiai left afterwards, according to a source speaking to Reuters.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte speaks during the ceremony marking the first anniversary of the collapse of a motorway Morandi Bridge that killed 43 people in Genoa, Italy, August 14, 2019. REUTERS/Massimo Pinca

Image: PM Giuseppe Conte’s officials intervened after some relatives told him they would leave if the motorway executives stayed

On 14 August 2018, a large section of the 1.2km (0.75 miles) motorway viaduct, which was built with reinforced concrete, collapsed, sending vehicles plummeting 50m (164ft) below.

During the ceremony, the names of the 43 victims were read aloud, and a minute’s silence was held.

There was a Catholic mass, led by Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, Genoa’s Archbishop, inside the abandoned warehouse where the service was held, close to the site where the disaster happened.

Apartment buildings are seen under the Morandi motorway bridge

Image: Apartment buildings are seen under the Morandi motorway bridge

The remains of the collapsed Morandi bridge are blown up in a controlled explosion in Genoa.

28/6/19: Remains of collapsed bridge blown up in six seconds

Giovanni Toti, regional governor, said: “This is a day of grief but also of pride for this city.

“Grief because we are remembering 43 victims, for whom we hope justice will soon be done… but also pride because a year on, the city has managed to rise up and is back on its feet.”

Warring political leaders were able to suspend hostilities for the ceremony, joining with the president Sergio Mattarella to remember the victims.

The collapse is believed to have been caused by a structural weakness, the ANSA news agency said.

Image: The collapse is believed to have been caused by a structural weakness, the ANSA news agency said.

A green truck was left teetering near the edge. Pic: @belcastrotw

Image: A green truck was left teetering near the edge. Pic: @belcastrotw

The disaster has not helped the infighting in the coalition, with the 5-Star party accusing Matteo Salvini’s League Party of trying to protect the Bennetton family and resisting their attempts to revoke Atlantia’s concession.

Mr Salvini denies this.

Genoa’s mayor Marco Bucci said he hoped the political climate in the country would not affect the bridge reconstruction.

He said: “The other day I received assurances by the government that their support will continue. And anyway, I believe that our goals are aligned.

“Genoa is a big city, with a large infrastructure and it matters not only to the Genoese people, but also to Italy, Europe and everyone. So, we’re aligned to the same goal.”

The coalition has split after months of bickering, meaning there could be elections in October.

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