The private broadcaster Sky TG24 said that a 200-metre section of the Morandi Bridge collapsed over an industrial zone. "I don't know when", he warned. Rescuers had hoped that their child had survived but when they retrieved the body it was limp.
Ian Firth, past president of the UK-based Institution of Structural Engineers, told the BBC: "A major bridge like this needs regular inspection and maintenance by qualified engineers".
This technique also characterises another, even longer and just as problematic Morandi bridge: the 8.7-kilometre long General Rafael Urdaneta Bridge that spans the bay of Maracaibo, Venezuela, and was completed in 1962. "Autostrade should have done maintenance and didn't do it".
"I'm following with the utmost apprehension what is happening in Genoa and what looks like it could be an vast tragedy", Transport and Infrastructure minister Danilo Toninelli said on Twitter. "The causes for the collapse will be the subject of an in-depth analysis as soon as it is possible to safely access the site".
He said the shockwave sent him flying into a wall, injuring his right shoulder and hip.
The disaster occurred on a highway that connects Italy to France, and northern cities like Milan to the beaches of Liguria.
The motorway operator said work to shore up the bridge's foundation was being carried out at the time of the collapse, during which time it was being constantly monitored.
The Morandi Bridge was inaugurated in 1967.
"There are buildings that have been hit but it seems that all the victims were on the bridge".
Firefighters climbed across the unstable debris before using an angle grinder to cut through the wires and eventually drag out a victim who was trapped for hours after the bridge collapsed.
Anil Agrawal, Professor of Civil Engineering at the City College of NY told CNN that if there is corrosion in the concrete, water can cause a void, further corroding the cables. He said they were still trying to figure out the cause of the collapse. "If you lose any cable you have a catastrophe in the making".
In a 2016 interview posted online, Antonio Brencich, a University of Genoa professor specialising in reinforced concrete construction, said: "This bridge is usually characterised as a masterpiece of engineering, but in reality it is a failure of engineering".
"It was affected by serious corrosion problems related to the technology that Morandi himself had patented, which he had not used anymore, and which proved to be disastrous", Brencich told Italian daily La Repubblica.