GENOA • The two remaining towers of the motorway bridge in the Italian city Genoa that collapsed nearly a year ago, killing 43 people, were demolished yesterday to make way for a new structure.
The authorities said it took just seven seconds for the remains of the 4,500-tonne Morandi bridge to collapse in a cloud of dust.
Nearly 4,000 residents had been evacuated ahead of the demolition, and water tanks were placed around the towers to prevent the spread of dust.
Some 400 security forces were also deployed to the area.
Genoa Mayor Marco Bucci said the controlled demolition had gone to plan, after a short delay to check on a report that someone might have been holed up in an abandoned apartment block nearby.
A section of the viaduct, built in the 1960s with reinforced concrete and strengthened in the 1990s, gave way on Aug 14 last year, sending cars and trucks hurtling 50m to the ground.
Yesterday's controlled explosions centred on two pylons holding up the surviving spans of the viaduct as cannons shot water over the 20,000 cu m of steel and concrete to prevent the clouds of dust from engulfing the city.
The collapse made access to Genoa's busy port more difficult and has also meant a lengthy detour for drivers heading to southern France.
Locals and officials, including Deputy Prime Ministers Matteo Salvini and Luigi Di Maio, witnessed the blast. The pair had spent several days at the site when it collapsed in bad weather, striving to outdo one another in indignation and what action to take in the aftermath of the incident.
The disaster threw the spotlight on Italy's creaking infrastructure, with Mr Salvini suggesting that European Union budget spending demands from Brussels had limited Italy's ability to maintain it.
The dismantling of the bridge's remains started in February.
Ahead of the demolition, residents expressed relief that the eyesore would finally be gone but were also concerned about the possible consequences of the detonation.
The bridge "is high, it is big, it is full of iron, it is super heavy... I don't know what will happen when it falls. Apart from the dust it will cause, I am worried about the impact", resident Francesco Russo had told AFP TV on Thursday.
With the demolition over, officials are now waiting for the arrival of a ship transporting the first parts of a new bridge, the construction of which is scheduled to begin next year. The government has promised that the new steel and concrete motorway bridge, designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano, will be open for traffic in April next year.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS