Status: 07/07/2022 03:44
In August 2018, the Ponte Morandi collapsed in Genoa, killing 43 people. The trial against 59 defendants allegedly responsible for years of poor maintenance begins today.
The operation to reveal the truth about the Morandi Bridge collapse begins today at the Courthouse in Genoa. The president of the Genoa court, Enrico Ravera, says a process that Italy has never experienced logistically: “It is truly unprecedented. We have never had such a process that can serve as a model for the organization of the process.
59 defendants, more than 200 lawyers, to date nearly 180 witnesses, experts, journalists and up to 500 spectators. They are all spread over three courtyard columns, which are connected by video link. Judges and prosecutors sit under a large, unadorned white marquee set up in the court yard. They should clarify the questions: How could the disaster have happened, one of the most important in the history of the Republic of Italy? And above all: whose fault is it? For Italy, the collapse of the Morandi bridge remains a trauma.
Aerial view of the collapsed Morandi road bridge in Genoa
Bridge to Nothing: This is how the remains of Ponte Morandi dominated the landscape after its collapse.
Three seconds were missing to survive
Surveillance cameras on the A10 motorway showed exactly 11:35 and 55 seconds on August 14, 2018 when the central section of the bridge collapsed. People driving over it had no chance, they fell 90 meters with their cars and trucks. A nightmare. 43 women, men and children died – including Claudia Possetti, who was returning from vacation with her two children and her husband.
To survive, says Claudia’s sister, Egle Possetti, it only took them a few moments:
They were almost to the part of the bridge that hadn’t collapsed. This tormented us for months. I don’t know how many times I said to my husband: One, two, three. One two three. They needed three seconds to pass to the other side.
Possetti is the founder and chairman of the Morandi Bridge Victims Remembrance Committee and will be present at the trial.
The expertise revealed maintenance defects
On the other side of the quay is Giovanni Castellucci, the former head of the motorway company which was responsible at the time, Autostrade per l’Italia. Alongside 29 other executives and employees of the company, but also employees of the ministries and authorities who were responsible for the controls or their organization.
An expert report commissioned for the trial speculates that years of lack of maintenance and inspection of the bridge led to the collapse. The representative of the Possetti relatives stresses that it is not a question of personal revenge: “We want to do everything possible to bring out the truth”, she says. “We do it for our loved ones. But we also do it out of good citizenship. Because what happened to them could have happened to any other citizen.”
Because it was obviously only a matter of time before the busy but dilapidated motorway bridge collapsed. The day before, the dimensions of the accident would probably have been even greater. At the same time, several hundred cars were on the bridge due to a traffic jam.
Prestige new bridge project
In Genoa, Italy’s overall management of its bridge infrastructure is located indirectly in the dock. Even today, explains bridge expert Settimo Martinello, 60 to 70% of the country’s bridges are not regularly checked.
Finding those responsible for the Morandi Bridge collapse will take time. Probably by 2024, Judge Ravera told Genovese TV channel Primocanale: “Because of the large number of people involved in the process, but also because of the complexity of the process. It will probably take one to two years. “
On the site of the collapsed Ponte Morandi, a new bridge has been hastily built – and inaugurated in 2020.
Image: LUCA ZENNARO/EPA-EFE/Shutterstoc
The construction of a new bridge to replace the collapsed Ponte Morandi was faster than the criminal procedure. The government in Rome had declared that it was a prestige project, as if they wanted the drama to be forgotten. In the summer of 2020, less than two years later, the new bridge was inaugurated. It was designed by the Genoese star architect Renzo Piano. He promises that his bridge will last at least 1000 years.