At least 11 people have died after a section of a highway bridge in northern Italy partially collapsed Tuesday, according to Italian media including RAI and La Republicca.
Italian news agency ANSA reported that several crushed vehicles are under the rubble with dead people inside, citing unnamed sources, who did not provide a specific number of casualties.
The news agency reports that around 10 vehicles were affected after a section of the Morandi Bridge, which lies to the west of the port city of Genoa, collapsed. Some trucks ended up in the Polcevera river, Carabinieri police sources told ANSA.
In a separate report, citing fire brigade and rescue sources, ANSA said that “tens of people” were among the victims and that two people had been pulled out of vehicles alive.
The section of the A10 highway affected crosses over several roads, railway tracks, shopping centers, homes and the Polcevera river. It is a major thoroughfare, linking central Genoa with Genoa airport and towns along the coast to the west of the city.
The incident occurred around noon (6 a.m. ET) Tuesday, Italian state police said, later posting a video on Twitter of the moment the bridge gave way.
Police said that a violent storm was the cause of the collapse. An automated report from the weather station at the nearby Genoa Cristoforo Colombo Airport around the time of the incident recorded thunderstorms with winds gusting to 57 kilometers per hour (36 miles per hour).
Shortly after the collapse, rescue vehicles were seen racing to the site. Several hours later, around 200 firefighters were still working at the scene, according to the Italian fire brigade.
Giorgio Larosa posted a video on Instagram showing rescuers working in heavy rain to free people from crushed vehicles in a grassy area below the bridge.
The bridge, also known as the Polcevera Viaduct, was designed by Italian civil engineer Riccardo Morandi and completed in 1968.
According to a statement released given to Reuters Tuesday, motorway operator Autostrade said it had been carrying out maintenance work on the bridge to strengthen the road foundations.
“The works and state of the viaduct were under constant monitoring and supervision,” the statement said, according to Reuters. “The causes of the collapse will be thoroughly investigated as soon it is be safe to access the site.”
Italy’s Infrastructure Minister Danilo Toninelli tweeted, “I am following with the utmost apprehension what has happened to #Genoa and which looms as an immense tragedy. We are in close contact with Autostrade and we are going to the the site with the deputy Minister Rixi. My total closeness at this time to the city.”
In a tweet, Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini thanked the rescue workers at the scene and said, “we are following the situation minute by minute.”
This story has been corrected to reflect that the city of Genoa is located in northern Italy.