Italian PM opens new Genoa bridge two years after tragic collapse that killed 43

Video report by ITV News Senior International Correspondent John Irvine

The new Genoa bridge, replacing the one that collapsed two years ago killing 43 people, has opened in Italy.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, who led the inauguration, said on Facebook that the bridge, designed by architect Renzo Piano, is a "symbol of a new Italy".

On August 14, 2018, a large section of the Morandi Bridge collapsed sending more than 30 cars and three trucks plunging 150ft on to apartment buildings and railway tracks below.

Mr Conte said: "I will be in Genoa for the inauguration of the new bridge 'Genoa San Giorgio'.

"From a wound that remains difficult to heal to the symbol of a new Italy that rises. An important day, telling the present and future of a changing country."

The remains of the Morandi bridge was demolished in a planned explosion in June 2019. Credit: AP

The replacement bridge, a high-tech structure with advanced safety mechanisms is due toopen to traffic on Tuesday or Wednesday.

President Sergio Mattarella was the first to officially cross the new bridge.

Families of the victims did not take part in the inauguration - but are expected to meet 10 days later to mark the second anniversary of the tragedy.

Mr Piano, who is from Genoa, designed the bridge to have 43 lamps dotting the span in tribute to those who died.

It contains sensors and robots that constantly monitor the structure, powered by 2,000 solar panels.

The bridge, which crosses the Polcevera river in the centre of the city, is a vital highway connection between France and Italy.

Vehicles plunged 150ft as the highway bridge collapsed from under them. Credit: AP

When the Morandi bridge, named after the engineer Riccardo Morandi who designed it, opened in 1967 it was hailed as iconic for its innovative technology and became a landmark for the port city.

But during heavy rain at 11.36am on August 14, 2018, a steel-enforced concrete cable stay broke and collapsed taking down a 690ft supporting tower.

Traffic that day was particularly heavy due to it being the eve of Italy's summer holiday Ferragosto.

Cracks in the concrete of the bridge meant that the steel inside the bridge began to corrode soon after construction.

The company managing most of Italy's motorways, Autostrade per l'Italia, began to refurbish it in the 1990s but had failed to repair the pylon that later collapsed.

A preliminary investigation into the cause of the collapse will form the basis of a trial with charges including multiple counts of manslaughter.