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Highway company promises new bridge as Genoa death toll rises to 43

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Staff Writer |
Genoa bridge
Italy   Autostrade will build a new steel viaduct within eight months

Autostrade per l'Italia (Highways for Italy) executives said the highway operator will build a new steel viaduct within eight months to replace the Morandi Bridge, which collapsed earlier this week in the northwestern city of Genoa.

Speaking at a televised press conference, Autostrade CEO Giovanni Castellucci said the company will set up a fund for the relatives of the victims, plus compensation for residents of buildings that will have to be demolished in order to build the new bridge.

The company will spend an estimated 500 million euros (572 million U.S. dollars) in emergency funding for the people of Genoa, Castellucci specified in reply to questions from reporters.

Over 600 people were displaced from their homes after the collapse of the viaduct, which soared over a densely populated neighbourhood to connect the eastern and western parts of the bustling port city.

Just after 5:30 p.m. local time, ANSA news agency reported that a Romanian national who had been rescued from the rubble of the bridge died of his injuries at Genoa's San Martino hospital, bringing the unofficial death toll to 43.

In its latest bulletin issued at 4 p.m. local time, the prefecture put the official death toll at 39, with 10 wounded.

Castellucci expressed condolences for the victims, and reiterated that the company had done all it could to monitor the bridge and that there had been nothing to indicate an imminent collapse.

"We trust the judiciary will shed light on the truth, and that the truth will be accepted," Castellucci said.

Two commissions of inquiry have been set up to look into why the midsection of the bridge gave way during a heavy rainstorm shortly before noon on Aug. 14, sending dozens of cars and several trucks crashing onto a riverbed, train tracks, and some warehouses 45 meters below.

One of the commissions has been set up by the transport ministry, and the other by the Genoa prosecutor's office, which has opened a criminal investigation into the deadly collapse.

Also on Saturday, Liguria Governor Giovanni Toti told reporters after an emergency cabinet meeting held in Genoa that the government has allocated 28.5 million euros in emergency funding for the stricken city, in addition to five million euros that had been allocated earlier in the week.

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