Remarkable footage has emerged of a man being rescued from the mangled wreckage of his van, suspended amid the debris of the Genoa bridge collapse.
Firefighters carefully extracted businessman Gianluca Ardini, 28, out of his vehicle, which was barely recognisable, and then abseiled him down to the ground.
Mr Ardini reportedly plunged about 120ft in the vehicle before coming to rest amid the smashed remains of the bridge.
“We still can’t understand how it was possible for that to happen, but he is alive,” said his girlfriend, Giulia Organo, who is eight months pregnant.
Until now, authorities had not said how many people might be unaccounted for.
Chief Prosecutor Francesco Cozzi said on Thursday that "there could be 10 to 20 persons still missing."
Emergency workers worked through the night for a second time but did not find any survivors or bodies.
Large cranes, which are capable of lifting up to 300 tonnes, are being used to remove giant slabs of concrete.
Chunks of concrete that are too heavy for the cranes are being broken up into smaller pieces with a giant jack hammer.
The emergency services are anxious to clear the river that runs beneath the bridge before autumn rainfall brings the danger of floods.
“They’re still digging and not all areas have been reached yet, so we are working to find people who are still missing,” said Giovanni Toti, the governor of Liguria, the region that encompasses Genoa.
Genoa motorway bridge collapses
As well as those killed, 16 people were injured by the collapse of the bridge on Tuesday, with nine of them still in critical condition.
Mr Ardini suffered cuts, bruises and a compound fracture and is now recovering in hospital. His colleague, who was travelling with him in the van, sadly did not survive.
Around 630 people living in 11 apartment blocks beneath the shattered bridge have been evacuated and the buildings will probably have to be demolished.
“It’s going to be difficult for those homes to remain because the bridge is dangerous and there is a good chance of more parts of it collapsing,” said Marco Bucci, the mayor of Genoa.
The government has announced that the victims of the disaster will be given a state funeral on Saturday, which has been declared a day of national mourning.
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The company that manages the motorway bridge, Autostrade per l’Italia, says it wants to reconstruct the bridge and that the project would take five months.
#Genova #14ago, uno dei salvataggi effettuati dalle squadre dei #vigilidelfuoco pic.twitter.com/uPDPiHurr6
— Vigili del Fuoco (@emergenzavvf) August 14, 2018
But the government says it wants to revoke the company’s concession and punish it with a fine of up to €150 million.
In a growing row between the government and Atlantia, the holding company that controls Autostrade, Atlantia said its concession could not be revoked before the cause of the collapse had been determined.
Prosecutors have launched an investigation which will look at both the original design of the bridge in the 1960s and efforts to maintain it.
But Matteo Salvini, Italy’s deputy prime minister and interior minister, has also been under fire for choosing to attend a gala dinner in his honour in Sicily hours after the bridge collapsed.
The hard-Right politician was photographed smiling with political supporters and being presented with a large cake decorated with an image of him saluting a crowd.
Critics said his attendance at the party on Tuesday evening was inappropriate given that at the time, bodies were being dug out of the rubble by hundreds of firefighters and emergency workers.
The gathering Mr Salvini attended near Messina in Sicily was on the eve of Ferragosto, a national holiday that dates back to Roman times and which is traditionally the high point of the summer break in Italy.
“The images of Salvini celebrating at the same time as the drama played out in Genoa are an insult to the sadness felt by the country,” said Matteo Orfini, an MP from the centre-Left Democratic Party.
Emanuele Fiano, an MP from the same party, said Mr Salvini had decided to be wined and dined “while Italy wept over a shocking tragedy.” The interior minister should apologise, he said.
There was also criticism from some Italians on social media, including Facebook and Twitter.