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Genoa Bridge Cable Was Damaged Months Ago, Experts Say

Months before a highway bridge collapsed in Genoa, Italy, engineering experts found damages to the cables that were supporting it. The Morandi bridge collapsed on August 14 during a period of heavy rainfall, and left 43 people dead. An additional 600 people living in apartments beneath part of the bridge were forced to evacuate.

In February, experts determined that corrosion of cables supporting the bridge weakened the infrastructure by 20%, Italian news outlet Espresso reported Monday. Despite the damage to the cables, “neither the ministry, nor the highway company, ever considered it necessary to limit traffic, divert heavy trucks, reduce the roadway from two to one lanes or reduce the speed,” according to the report.

Antonio Brencich, an engineering professor at the University of Genoa, also warned in 2016 that the bridge would have to be replaced, “sooner or later,” due to infrastructural problems. An earlier report from 2011 also pointed to the bridge’s disintegration.

During a news conference on Monday, the former Transport Minister Graziano Delrio said, “No one ever signaled the necessity of limiting traffic” on the bridge. But according to Espresso reporter Fabrizio Gatti, who spoke with SKY TG24, “Everyone was well aware of the situation on that bridge.”

Atlantia, the parent company of the bridge operator saw shares drop by more than 9 percent on Monday. Italy’s interior minister also said that the government was in talks to revoke the company’s toll license. Atlantia runs half of the country’s motorways.

Autostrade per L’Italia, the company that operated the part of the bridge that collapsed, offered to pay €500m ($570m) in reconstruction and compensation costs, according to a Quartz report.